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Larry The Legend Injured, Will Miss Kentucky Derby

April 17, 1995|BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There will be no Kentucky Derby for Larry The Legend.

Owner-trainer Craig Lewis declared the popular colt, who ran his winning streak to four with a head victory over Afternoon Deelites in the Santa Anita Derby on April 8, out of the May 6 Derby on Sunday morning.

Apparently, the Local Talent colt has a bone chip in his left knee. X-rays have been taken, and Lewis, who acquired Larry The Legend for $2,500 at a bankruptcy sale of former client Photini Jaffe, will consult with a handful of veterinarians this week to get a conclusivediagnosis and prognosis. If the Illinois-bred does have a chip, a decision will then be made regarding arthroscopic surgery, and if he does undergo surgery, Larry The Legend probably won't race until late in the year.

"He didn't come out of (the Santa Anita Derby) quite as good as he had come out of his other races," Lewis said. "He gave everything a horse could give. He ran as hard as a horse could run. He was a little bit touchy and when he didn't respond, we decided we'd better start to investigate further.

"At the worst, he's got a chip. We'll talk to four or five veterinarians, get their opinions, weigh their opinions and make a decision."

Named after Lewis' brother, Larry, who coached the 1992-93 Long Beach Little League world champions, Larry The Legend had become a crowd favorite and was probably the most popular horse to run locally since John Henry.

"Obviously, it's very tough to pass up a race of that magnitude," said Lewis, referring to the Kentucky Derby. "But in this game you have to take the bitter with the sweet, and our main concern is the welfare of the horse.

"I appreciate all the support this horse has gotten. That's one of the reasons why I wouldn't run this horse unless he was 100%. I want to do what's best for him because he's been very good to me and I don't want to do anything that's detrimental to him. We're concerned with the best interests of the horse. I have to show the same kind of class the horse has."

Lewis phoned Gary Stevens' agent, Ron Anderson, in Hong Kong Sunday to break the news. Stevens rode Larry The Legend for the first time in the Santa Anita Derby, replacing Kent Desormeaux, who stuck with Afternoon Deelites. Stevens, who rode also-ran Urgent Request in the Oaklawn Handicap Saturday, is on his way back to Hong Kong. He is under contract to ride there for trainer Steven Leung until mid-June.

"(Anderson) was disappointed," Lewis said. "Gary felt pretty confident. He said he wouldn't trade chances with anybody else in the Kentucky Derby."

Successful in the Santa Catalina and San Rafael Stakes before the Santa Anita Derby, Larry The Legend goes to the sidelines with earnings of more than $548,000. In his only defeat, he was second to Louisiana Derby winner Petionville in his initial start last Dec. 31.

This past weekend wasn't a good one for Lewis' bargain buys. Besides the injury to Larry The Legend, Bee El Tee, who was purchased for $4,500 in the same bankruptcy sale, had a rough trip in the California Derby on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields and finished 11th in the field of 12.

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