76YO Eddie Barker’s dream of training his first Kentucky Derby starter has almost certainly been dashed.
Barker told that Shipsational, the Derby prospect he longed for through a 28-year career as a conditioner, was withdrawn from consideration from Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby because of inflammation in his right ankle.
The problem was discovered Tuesday afternoon as the promising New York-bred was about to be shod at Tampa Bay Downs ahead of an early-morning ship to Gulfstream Park. An initial set of X-rays did not reveal an issue. An ultrasound was to be performed Wednesday in search of possible soft-tissue damage.
Shipsational ranks 21st on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, with 14 qualifying points. He needed a solid performance in the Florida Derby, which awards the top four finishers points on a 100-40-20-10 basis, to provide his trainer with the Derby starter of his dreams.
The septuagenarian, best known for his ability to reverse the fortunes of claiming horses in decline on the New York circuit, has never won a graded-stakes race. Shipsational would have been his first starter at Gulfstream Park. He also has never been to Churchill Downs.
Barker was devastated by the awful timing of the injury, whatever it might be.