When Shivananda Racing’s Ducduc returns from an 11-week layoff for Saturday’s $55,000 Primal Stakes, the son of Langfuhr will have to overcome more than the usual complexities associated with an extended layoff as the 6-year-old will be running for the first time without the services of his left eye, which was removed following a second-place finish in the Sumter Stakes on May 5.
“It happened some time during the race,” owner Shivananda Parbhoo said of the injury that led to the eye loss. “We’re not sure what it was that got him, probably a clump of dirt, but when he got back to the barn his eye had started to swell and it was very apparent that something was wrong.”
Parbhoo was in Kentucky the day of the Sumter saddling Trinniberg in the Kentucky Derby, but when the owner returned to south Florida a few days later, the eye had not improved and the white of the eye was beginning to yellow, so Ducduc was rushed to the Palm Beach Equine Clinic.
“He was at the clinic for two or three weeks,” Parbhoo recalled. “They did everything they could to try to save the eye, but they weren’t able to, and it had to be removed.”
From there, Parbhoo returned Ducduc to his Calder stall and monitored the daily progression of the horse, with the 6-year-old showing no ill effects from the ordeal.
“We started him back with a couple of open gallops,” Parbhoo said. “And when he came back from those, everything was good. Then we breezed him. Then we breezed him with company. And he’s done everything right. It’s like he hasn’t missed a beat.”
While the morning hours have gone well for Ducduc, Parbhoo remains a bit reserved as to what he expects from the horse on Saturday.
“We’ll have to see how he handles everything in a race,” Parbhoo said. “That’s the unknown right now. The jockey knows about the eye, and I’ll tell him to go out and ride the race like he normally would.
“I’m comfortable with the race,” “Parbhoo continued. “The Fawkes horse (Cash Rules) beat us last time, and he’s probably the horse to beat here. But the last few days my horse has been a little more aggressive and it’s clear that he wants to run, so if we can just go out and run our race, I think we’ll be tough.”
WHERE’S STERLING HEADED TO THE COAST
One name missing from the list of starters for the Primal is top handicap horse and two-time local stakes winner Where’s Sterling, who will soon heed the alluring call of the west as trainer Luis Ramirez confirmed on Thursday that the son of Northern Afleet is being pointed towards an August 26 start in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
“We’ll ship him out some time between August 10 and August 15 and try to get a work over the track there,” Ramirez said when asked about travel plans for the 5-year-old. “I’ll go out there with him and be with him for the race.”
A start in the Pacific Classic would mark the second Grade 1 appearance of the year for Where’s Sterling, who finished a troubled fourth when beaten 3 ½ lengths in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in February. Where’s Sterling has since been victorious in each of his last two starts, taking both the $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap and the $55,000 Mecke Stakes at Calder.
“He’s been training great, and it’s time to take a chance with him,” Ramirez said of the decision to go west. “And we’ll get a chance to see if he likes Polytrack, which could open up options for later.”
IMPERIAL CZAR BOUND FOR THE BAYOU
Also missing from the Primal Stakes lineup is $125,000 Miami Mile Handicap winner Imperial Czar, who trainer Saul Matos has slated for an August 11 start in the $125,000 Evangeline Mile at Evangeline Downs.
“We thought about running (in the Primal), but the timing didn’t work out with the Evangeline race,” Matos said. “It would have been too close to run him here and then make that race, so we’ll breeze him Saturday, then maybe one more time after that, and ship to Louisiana on August 2.”
Following his winning run in the Miami Mile, Imperial Czar has returned to finish fourth in the Memorial Day Handicap and fifth in the Mecke.
Matos indicated that jockey Jesus Rios, aboard Imperial Czar in each of his last four starts, was likely to make the trip to Evangeline to ride.