Popular Finnick The Fierce may return this season

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Finnick The Fierce
Sep 2, 2020; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; An exercise rider works Kentucky Derby entry Finnick the Fierce at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

It has been confirmed that a minor strain of the upper suspensory in his right front leg was the reason Finnick The Fierce missed his chance to run in the Kentucky Derby.

The popular one-eyed gelding is set to be on the sidelines for 30 days as a result, but connections aren’t yet ruling out a return to action later this year.

Dr Arnaldo Monge, who co-owns Finnick The Fierce with his trainer Rey Hernandez, revealed the diagnosis following extensive testing at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington since last weekend.

“We know it is something that is fixable. He just needs a little rest and relaxation,” Dr Monge stated.

Finnick The Fierce was born with a cataract on his right eye that forced the surgical removal of that eye. Given that early setback in his life, he has proved popular amongst racegoers since he made it to the track.

While he was considered an outsider in the Kentucky Derby having drawn the rail position, Finnick The Fierce would have entered the ‘Run for the Roses’ as the only horse in the line-up to have defeated the hot-favourite Tiz The Law.

Following a winning debut at Indiana Grand last year, he ran second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last November, one place better than Tiz The Law as they chased home Silver Prospector on a sloppy track.

That was the only defeat suffered by Barclay Tagg’s Belmont and Travers Stakes winner prior to his runner-up finish behind Authentic last weekend at Churchill Downs.

Finnick The Fierce gained his only success this season via an allowance optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park in early April, where he was upgraded having suffered interference in finishing second.

He has however also run well in the second division of the Arkansas Derby in May when finishing third behind since-retired Nadal and King Guillermo despite an SP of 62/1.

Revealing a bit more about how the injury was diagnosed, Monge admits it was tougher to spot because the horse has an unusual gait as he strives to compensate for the absence of his right eye.

“This thing eluded a lot of people,” Monge added. “Dr Bramlage [at the Equine Hospital] was able to pinpoint it. At least we know how to proceed.”

It has been confirmed that the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland is off the agenda, though Finnick The Fierce may still race again this season.

“We always said that this was a horse for the long term,” Monge noted. “We’ll baby him as much as we can.”

He also paid tribute to the on-track veterinarians at Churchill Downs last week for spotting that something was ailing Finnick The Fierce and ‘looking out for our horse’ in getting him scratched from the Derby field at the last minute.