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Injury knocks El Areeb out of Kentucky Derby contention

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LAUREL, Md. — El Areeb has been knocked out of Kentucky Derby contention because of a slight knee fracture.

Trainer Cal Lynch said Thursday that El Areeb would undergo surgery on Monday for the injury that is not career-threatening.

El Areeb had won the Jerome and Withers, making him one of the East Coast’s leading candidates for the Kentucky Derby on May 6.

Lynch said X-rays showed the knee fracture after the colt completed a 1 1/8-mile workout on Thursday. El Areeb was set to make his next start in the Wood Memorial on April 8 at Aqueduct.

Lynch said the colt’s surgery would be done at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. The timetable for recovery and return is uncertain, although Lynch said it’s typically six months.

Long shot Puig finishes second in Del Mar debut

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Long shot Puig finished second in his career debut at Del Mar, with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig supporting the horse on Twitter.

Puig lost by 3 1/4 lengths in the $60,000 fifth race on Sunday at the seaside track north of San Diego. He paid $17.80 and $9.60 at 32-1 odds under jockey Santiago Gonzalez.

The Kentucky-bred colt earned $12,000 in the 6 1/2-furlong race. He is trained by Scott Hansen and owned by Gary Broad.

Puig of the Dodgers re-tweeted a photo of the horse leaving the paddock before the race.

Songbird to run at Saratoga, won’t face males at Del Mar

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Songbird will return to Saratoga to run in the $700,000 Personal Ensign on Aug. 26 rather than taking on male horses in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar a week earlier.

Owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm said Sunday that Saratoga is his favorite track and the Personal Ensign is the right race for the 4-year-old filly.

Songbird is 13-1 in her career and has earnings of over $4.5 million. Her only loss came by a nose to Beholder in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Songbird put in a five-furlong workout at Del Mar on Sunday, completing the distance in 1:01 in her home state of California.

Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird earned back-to-back Grade 1 victories at Saratoga last year in the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama.