ESPN Horse Racing

Hoof problem produces slow workout time
By David Grening
Daily Racing Form

ELMONT, N.Y. -- Funny Cide's path to become the 12th Triple Crown winner became a little easier Thursday.

Atswhatimtalknbout, who finished a fast-closing fourth in the Kentucky Derby, was withdrawn from consideration for the Belmont Stakes on June 7. Also withdrawing was longshot Colita.

Those two defections reduced the number of definite starters to seven with three more still remaining as possible starters. Along with Funny Cide, the definites are Best Minister, Dynever, Empire Maker, Scrimshaw, Supervisor and Ten Most Wanted. The possible starters include Midway Road, Outta Here and Wild and Wicked.

Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and will try to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

The defection of Atswhatimtalknbout was not surprising. The horse has been plagued with a problem in his right front hoof since May 16 and did not race in the Preakness the next day. An abscess that popped open last weekend developed into a quarter crack.

On Wednesday, Atswhatimtalknbout turned in a subpar workout at Churchill Downs, covering a mile in 1:46.80. Trainer Ron Ellis thought the horse was trying to protect himself, a reason for the slow time.

Upon returning to California, Ellis met with owner B. Wayne Hughes, with the decision made to ship the horse back to California. He is scheduled to be flown home on Monday.

"We're going to go ahead and bring him home,'' Ellis said Thursday from his Santa Anita barn. "I think he was trying to tell me something [Wednesday] so I think I'm going to listen to him.''

Ellis said he has no timetable for Atswhatimtalknbout's return.

"We'll let the foot grow back and take care of it the right way,'' Ellis said "I'd be sick if I pushed on him. It's a shame; he was sitting on go. It's disappointing, I wanted to be there.''

Colita to skip Belmont
Colita, a winner of a second-level allowance race on May 21, was also withdrawn from the Belmont on Thursday.

"It's just back to quick for this horse,'' said Barry Irwin, head of the Team Valor syndicate that owns half the horse. "He ran real fast, he's not recovering like we want. Rather than just go in there, this is going to be a tough race, this is no easy race ... we'll skip this one, look for something more normal and shoot for the Travers.''

Among the races Colita may run in next are the $250,000 Leonard Richards at Delaware Park on June 14 or the $150,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont on July 5.

Colita, a son of 1996 Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone, won his allowance race by 2 1-4 lengths and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 106.