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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Best of This Year's Field Pulled From Preakness

BALTIMORE -- Taking Grindstone and Unbridled's Song out of the Preakness mix amounts to taking the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic out of the NBA playoffs.


Even though there are other quality teams and players to carry on, how significant is the event without the best in the business?


The NBA playoffs would just be a Runner-Up Bowl without the Bulls and Magic, and the Preakness will just be an equine Miss Congeniality contest without Grindstone and Unbridled's Song.


Grindstone, the Kentucky Derby winner, was retired to stud Thursday after suffering a knee injury at Churchill Downs.


Unbridled's Song, the nation's best 3-year-old, has a sore heel that probably relegated him to a fifth-place finish in the Derby.


His owner, Ernie Paragallo, says the colt probably won't run in the Preakness.


Racing has no brighter star than the Kentucky Derby winner, and this year's already is gone from the scene less than a week after crossing the finish line just a nostril ahead of Cavonnier.


The Derby was a good-news event this year, what with the dramatic finish and television ratings up significantly from a year ago. But any momentum is now lost.


It's a punch to the gut of a troubled sport.


Grindstone was a powerful, long-striding bay with a classic pedigree, and it would have been interesting to see whether his Derby was merely a fluke or the beginning of a brightly-lit career.


Ah, well. He's just the youngest stud in the fields now.


There is no such doubt about the talent of Unbridled's Song, even though the colt failed in the Derby stretch after leading by two lengths with one-eighth of a mile to go.


"The best 3-year-old in the country just ran fifth in the Kentucky Derby," said trainer Nick Zito after the race.


The horse's excuse? He was wearing army boots.


His trainer, Jim Ryerson, had him run the Derby in bar shoes to protect his injury and give him balance. That he was still able to lead the 19-horse field coming down the stretch was a remarkable feat.


It was asking too much to expect him to overcome an injury, shoe problems, a disrupted training regimen and the 19th post position, but he's still the class of his class.


In fact, he is probably one of the best 3-year-olds of the past decade. No one was disputing that assessment on the backside at Churchill Downs last week. All you had to do was watch him run to understand.