Dunkirk emerged from his game second-place finish in Saturday's Belmont Stakes with a non-displaced condylar fracture in his left hind cannon bone and will most likely miss the remainder of his 3-year-old season, his connections announced Tuesday.
Dunkirk was to undergo surgery Tuesday at the recently opened Ruffian Equine Medical Center - across the street from Belmont Park - where Dr. Patricia Hogan was to insert one screw to stabilize the injury, according to trainer Todd Pletcher.
Pletcher said Dunkirk would likely remain at the clinic until Thursday, before returning to his barn. Sometime late next week, Dunkirk would most likely be shipped to Ashford Stud in Lexington, Ky., for an undetermined amount of time, Pletcher said. Dunkirk could return to training this fall, with a return to the races possible for late this year but more likely next year.
Pletcher said owners Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith,, and Susan Magnier do want to try and bring Dunkirk back to the races if possible.
"I don't anticipate this would prevent him from reaching his maximum potential," Pletcher said. "There have been a lot of horses that have returned from this sort of injury and done extremely well."
The injury was detected when Pletcher noticed the horse was slightly off following the race. Subsequent X-rays taken on Monday revealed the fracture.
Dunkirk, a son of Unbridled's Song who brought $3.7 million at the Keeneland September yearling auction in 2007, was making just his fifth career start in the Belmont. Dunkirk set a strong early pace under John Velazquez, then battled back to get second from Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who had passed Dunkirk in the stretch. Dunkirk was beaten 2 3/4 lengths by Summer Bird.
Dunkirk won his first two starts before finishing second to Quality Road in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in late March. He went off the second choice in the Kentucky Derby, but finished 11th in the slop at Churchill Downs