Racing’s growing injury list is bringing to mind the late trainer Charlie Whittingham. This time of year, the oft-quoted truism from the late Hall of Fame conditioner is never far from recall in the zany world of Thoroughbred racing:

“They (horses) are like strawberries, They spoil very easily.”  

Charlie Whittingham
Trainer Charlie Whittingham and his canine companion Toby have been memorialized at Santa Anita, where his racing wisdom still applies. (Image: Santa Anita)

That’s now the case because Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston is joining the Kentucky Derby victor Country House on the sidelines indefinitely. Making matters even worse for bettors and fans is the accompanying news that rising star Global Campaign is scratching from the $500,000 Ohio Derby Saturday at Thistledown, near Cleveland. He’s the Stanley Hough trainee who beat Sir Winston in Belmont Park’s Peter Pan Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on May 11.

Sir Winston Taking Florida Vacation

As first reported by the Daily Racing Form, Sir Winston has a minor left front ankle injury. He’s no longer under consideration for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes in late August at Saratoga. Trainer Mark Casse says he’s hopeful Sir Winston can return to training sometime in the fall. Casse is projecting the Pegasus World Cup in January at Gulfstream Park as a long-term goal for the son of Awesome Again. The Belmont winner is resting at Casse’s Ocala, Fla. training center.

Country House, the official Kentucky Derby winner via DQ, was reported sick soon after the race on May 4. After recovering, trainer Bill Mott said the Looking at Lucky colt was lackluster in light training and is out for the remainder of the season.

Global Campaign is an exciting newcomer to the upper echelon of this year’s three-year-old crop. Hoof problems removing him from Kentucky Derby consideration were brought under control as he’s now an impressive winner of the Peter Pan at Belmont Park on May 11.

His connections say his hoof issues might preclude a top effort at Thistledown, so he’ll get more healing time and point next to Belmont Park’s July 6 Dwyer Stakes. That’s a a one-turn mile. Or, the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby on July 13 could be on his radar.

Ohio Derby Contenders Hoping to Rebound

Thistledown’s race of the year is still open to dispute between Owendale for Brad Cox and Steve Asmussen’s Long Range Toddy. Owendale was third in the Preakness at Pimlico on May 18. Long Range Toddy is regrouping off two off-the-board finishes, both on sloppy tracks. He’s a winner of a division of the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, then sixth in the Arkansas Derby and 16th in the Kentucky Derby on May 4.

Without Global Campaign, expect a field of just six to enter the gate for the Ohio Derby. Post time is 5:10 p.m. ET.

Racing enthusiasts always hope to see three-year-olds like Country House and Sir Winston later in the year as older horses. But, often injuries interfere. Today, trainers still revere Whittingham, racing’s famed “Bald Eagle.” That’s because of his uncommon expertise with older horses and his ability to get them fit and ready to race. Whittingham’s treasure trove of horse racing wisdom still applies today. The former Marine, always an icon in California’s rich racing history, is the winner of the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Golf Cup eight times each, the Kentucky Derby twice –Ferdinand and Sunday Silence — and 222 stakes at Hollywood and 204 at Santa Anita

He died in 1999.

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