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Wednesday, March 13, 2002
Stephentown out of Florida Derby

By Marty McGee
Daily Racing Form

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Stephentown was not entered in the Florida Derby Wednesday because of a minor injury incurred during a routine gallop Tuesday at Gulfstream Park, said trainer Tony Reinstedler.

"He jammed up his shoulder," said Reinstedler. "It's the kind of thing that he'll be fine by Monday, but unfortunately, the Florida Derby is Saturday. It's really nothing serious, but the bottom line is you have to take care of the animal."

Stephentown, owned by the Willmott Stables of Peter Willmott, finished sixth as the second choice in the Feb. 16 Fountain of Youth Stakes. Since then, the Wild Again colt had trained superbly, and Reinstedler strongly believed he could have won the 51st running of the $1 million Florida Derby.

"It's terribly disappointing," said Reinstedler. "I absolutely could not have been any happier with how he'd been doing. Your cookie can crumble a lot of ways in this game."

Stephentown, a two-time winner from four career starts, was scheduled to be ridden by Pat Day in the Florida Derby, for which he figured anywhere from the third to sixth betting choice. Reinstedler said he has made no alternative plans for a next start for Stephentown, and he declined to comment on what the defection meant toward the May 4 Kentucky Derby.

"I'm just going to get him healthy again before I start talking about all that," he said. "This setback appears to be so minor that he could actually get back into training (Thursday), or at least in the next couple of days.

"My experience has been that when good horses hurt themselves, some get better right away and some don't. So far he's responded real well to the chiropractic treatment we've been doing with him. We'll deal with all that other stuff when it's time."

In a related matter, the Kentucky Derby Future Wager was not affected because Stephentown was not listed as one of the 23 separate betting interests in Pool 2, for which wagering opens Thursday. The colt had been a separate interest in Pool 1.