Kentucky Derby entrant Wild On Ice euthanized after injury

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Wild On Ice was euthanized Thursday after dropping out of the Kentucky Derby with a left hind leg injury following a morning workout at Churchill Downs, his owner said.

The Texas-bred gelding breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 before being pulled up while galloping down the backstretch before 6 a.m. A news release from the track said Wild On Ice was evaluated at its equine hospital before being transported to an equine surgical facility in Lexington for evaluation.

The El Paso Times was first to report that Wild On Ice had been euthanized.

Owner Frank Sumpter told The Associated Press in a phone interview that a plate and screw could have been inserted in the horse's leg but said the injury was such that “so much could go wrong.”

“I didn't want him to suffer,” Sumpter said. "When you've got an injury in a joint like that and it’s in their back legs, it's tough because they have to use so much to stand up in their back legs. So, yeah, it’s a tough, tough deal to make these hard decisions.

“It’s such a sad deal because he was training so well going up the ladder and was getting stronger all the time.”

Wild On Ice was tied for 15th with 50 points in the Derby standings after winning the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby as a 35-1 long shot in New Mexico on March 26.

The son of Tapizar and Slamitagain by Grand Slam won his first two starts at Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico, and was third in the Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park on Feb. 28. Wild On Ice had earned $405,400. He initially was not a Triple Crown nominee until Sumpter paid a $6,000 late fee and began preparing him for horse racing’s marquee event.

Joel Marr was training Wild on Ice. Jockey Ken Tohill, who was riding him when the horse was injured, was seeking to become the Derby’s oldest starter at 60.

Marr's star pupil had sought to become the first Texas-bred Derby champ since Middleground in 1950 and first gelding winner since 2009, when New Mexico-based Mine That Bird triumphed. Wild On Ice emerged from Sumpter’s small stable in Lamesa, Texas, that included his mother, sister and a foal delivered earlier this month.

The withdrawal allowed Skinner into the 20-horse field for the 149th Derby on May 6.

Skinner, trained by John Shirreffs, finished third behind Practical Move and Japanese-bred Mandarin Hero in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 8. He also ran third in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita in March. The son of Curlin and Winding Way by Malibu Moon earned his first win in six career starts in a maiden special weight race on Feb. 12.

As Sumpter mourns Wild On Ice, he couldn't be happier for the opportunity that Skinner and his connections now receive.

“You hate to lose anything, but I’m so excited for the people that are moving up," Sumpter said. “The excitement we had for the last four weeks was just unbelievable and it won’t ever go away. It just fires me up to to try to get another one.”

Derby post-position draw with odds is Monday at Churchill Downs.

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AP Horse Racing Writer Beth Harris contributed to this report.

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