By Dick Downey
Algorithms was scratched from the Grade II Fountain of Youth this morning.
The move was attributed to a popped splint in his front right leg.
“The colt has been training beautifully,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. It’s an unfortunate situation. We'll monitor him closely and see how he responds to treatment.”
“It’s disappointing to miss this start,” said Jack Wolf, managing partner of Starlight Racing. Unfortunately, these things are part of the game and we deal with them.”
There is more than one kind of splint. A "true splint" refers to "a sprain or tear of the interosseous ligament resulting in enlargement most frequently observed just below the knee and on the inner side of the leg," according to a 2001 article in The Horse.
Most horses with a true splint will experience lameness, although it is usually transient. The immediate goal in most cases is to reduce inflammation. Stall rest is often recommended as well, and the length of time off varies from case to case.
According to a report, Pletcher said this morning that he isn't sure whether this means Algortithms is off the Derby Trail. A Twitter post late this morning said without attribution that Algorithms will be sent to Dr. Larry Bramlage for evaluation. Apparently, connections are saying the popped splint itself isn't serious, but if there's anything else, Algorithms would be questionable for the Kentucky Derby.
Asked earlier in the morning whether Algorithms will probably still compete in a race before the Kentucky Derby, Wolf replied by email, "Only time will tell."
According to trainer Gary Contessa, splints can occur in many places. "Shins, splint bone or just below the knee. We say they 'popped' because they are microfractures. Those microfractures 'pop' outward, creating a bump in that area, thereby getting the name 'popped a splint'.
With Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager set for the coming weekend, Churchill Downs will undoubtedly seek a statement from connnections of Algorithms as to whether he's still Derby bound.