The 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, which takes place on Saturday in Louisville, nearly had a touch of the Borderland — if it wasn’t for one fateful practice run in Sunland Park last month.
“It’s just an injury that’s going to take time to heal and obviously we miss the best time of our life with that horse,” local trainer Todd Fincher tells KTSM.
As KTSM previously reported, Sunland Derby winner Runaway Ghost is out of the Kentucky Derby after suffering a cracked shin.
“[It was] like a punch to your stomach,” Fincher says of the injury.
Tracy Hebert, Runaway Ghost’s jockey, knows all about having the deck stacked against him.
At 13 years old, Hebert lost his right eye in a hunting accident — but that didn’t stop him from winning more than 4,000 races in his career, including the Sunland Derby.
“I kind of get a little emotional,” Hebert tells KTSM. “If people could only know being handicapped, to ride in the Kentucky Derby, it’s a blessing.”
Until the good fortune suddenly ended with one trip around the track.
“I had a text, I looked over, and I saw it was from Todd,” Hebert explains. “I checked the text and it said we are out of the derby.”
Runaway Ghost would’ve been the first local horse to compete in the Kentucky Derby since Mine That Bird pulled off an epic 50-to-1 upset in 2009.
The Kentucky Derby will air on KTSM starting at 12:30 p.m.