Fever knocks Vekoma out of Sprint, possibly off to stud – Press Enterprise

Vekoma, the 3-1 morning-line favorite in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland Race Course, was scratched Wednesday morning after the 4-year-old son of Candy Ride spiked a fever Tuesday night.

The George Weaver-trained colt was unbeaten in three starts this year, including victories in a pair of Grade I stakes – the Carter Handicap and the Met Mile – at Belmont Park. He’d won his three starts this year by a combined 12 1/4 lengths.

“He shipped down early Tuesday morning, we took him out to the track and trained him, he’d been good all day, looked like he shipped in good, and last night he was a little light in the feed tub,” Weaver said. “We checked his temp, and he spiked a fever last night.

“We called the veterinarian to come out and examine him and he treated him, got him on some antibiotics, and he can’t train today. He’s not going to make the race. Horses get fevers all the time. You just hope they don’t happen on the eve of one of the biggest moments of this horse’s career, and mine too.”

The 2019 Blue Grass Stakes winner finished 13th in last year’s Kentucky Derby, after which he was given a break before returning in March with a 3 3/4-length victory in an ungraded stakes race at Gulfstream Park.Spendthrift Farm has acquired breeding rights to Vekoma, and Weaver suspects the colt’s racing career could be over.

“He’s probably going to be off to stud,” he said. “I’m not 100 percent sure if Spendthrift would be interested in running him again, but he’s had a great year. I would say most likely he’ll be off to his second career.”

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A little R&R

Trainer Bob Baffert suspects the two-month layoff will benefit his talented filly Gamine in Saturday’s $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint.

Gamine won the Grade I Acorn Stakes by 18 3/4 lengths in a record effort on June 20 at Belmont Park and came back and won the Grade I Test Stakes at Saratoga by seven lengths on Aug. 8 before a third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks a month later.

“That little break has really helped her,” Baffert said. “She couldn’t be doing any better. She looks great. I think seven-eighths is a great distance for her and the one turn because of her speed. At two turns, she’s not as effective because you have to slow her down going into those turns.”