ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) - Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the
Nile has been retired with a soft-tissue injury in his left front
Trainer Bob Baffert said the injury was discovered at Santa
Anita on Sunday morning when the 3-year-old son of Empire Maker
came off the track.
A scan determined a small hole in a tendon. While there's a
chance the horse could have returned to racing in 6-8 months, there
was no guarantee that he would remain healthy. Baffert advised
owner Ahmed Zayat it wasn't worth the risk.
"It's devastating," said Baffert. "I'm still in denial. He's
a star. He put me back on the Triple Crown map."
Pioneerof the Nile became one of the Derby favorites by winning
four straight prep races in California. All of those wins -
including the Santa Anita Derby - came over synthetic surfaces, but
he remained a solid third choice behind Friesan Fire and Dunkirk in
the mud at Churchill Downs.
Baffert thought for a moment he had his fourth Derby winner when
Pioneerof the Nile took the lead at the top of the stretch, but
Mine That Bird blew by along the rail. He settled for second after
holding off Musket Man by a nose.
"He was a scrapper," Baffert said. "He always did what he
needed to do."
Pioneerof the Nile couldn't bounce back in the Preakness,
finishing 11th. Baffert returned the horse to California and had
him pointed toward the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 18,
with an eye on the Breeders' Cup Classic in November if things went
"He was getting stronger," Baffert said. "He's changed so
much since the Derby. But the only positive thing about it is at
least we got this far with him. If it had happened three days
before the Santa Anita Derby, I'd be vomiting."
Pioneerof the Nile finished with five wins in 10 career starts
and $1,634,000 in earnings.