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Top contender Winslow Homer off Derby trail

Fox Hill Farm's Winslow Homer, winner of the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 23, is off the Kentucky Derby trail after a stress fracture was discovered in his cannon bone, owner Rick Porter wrote on his blog Tuesday.

"Winslow Homer had a little sensitivity in his shin Sunday morning," Porter wrote. "We went over him with a fine-toothed comb and found a small stress fracture in his cannon bone, resulting in Winslow having to go on the shelf for the next 60 to 90 days. Winslow should return to training in early April."

With three wins in four starts for trainer Tony Dutrow, Winslow Homer was considered one of the more promising contenders on the Derby scene.

The son of Unbridled's Song closed out his juvenile campaign with a 121/2-length win in a 1-mile allowance race at Philadelphia Park last November. In the Holy Bull, his first try against stakes company, Winslow Homer gamely split foes in the stretch and held off favored Jackson Bend to win by three-quarters of a length.

"He had such limited experience going in (to the Holy Bull) and to answer the questions the way he did and respond the way he did shows how intelligent he is," Tom McGreevy, bloodstock agent for Porter, told the Herald-Leader on Feb. 1. "He does what you want him to do when you want him to do it."

For Porter, Winslow Homer becomes his latest hard-luck Derby tale.

Porter had another top contender a year ago in Old Fashioned, another son of Unbridled's Song, but he was knocked off the trail and subsequently retired after sustaining a non-displaced slab fracture of his right knee during his second-place effort in the Arkansas Derby.

Porter owns multiple graded stakes winner Friesan Fire in partnership with Vinery and watched the talented colt go off as the Kentucky Derby favorite last May, only to have him finish next to last after grabbing his hoof at the start of the race.

Porter also campaigned the ill-fated filly Eight Belles, who tragically broke down following her second-place finish in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, and Rockport Harbor, who was a leading Derby contender in 2005 before being sidelined with a hoof injury.

"This is another tough-luck story for me and the Fox Hill fans," said Porter, who also owned 2007 Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun. "Hopefully we will have a huge summer and fall with Winslow Homer."