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New Mexico’s Wild On Ice is euthanized after Kentucky Derby workout

Wild On Ice, with jockey Ken Tohill aboard, returns to the winner’s circle after capturing the $600,000 Grade three Sunland Derby March 26 at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. Photo courtesy Coady Photography
Sunland Derby winner was preparing for next week’s race at Churchill Downs

FARMINGTON – Wild On Ice was euthanized Thursday after suffering a left-hind leg injury at the end of a predawn workout at Churchill Downs.

The winner of the Grade 3, $600,000 Sunland Derby last month was preparing for a start in the May 6 Kentucky Derby when the injury took place. According to a statement from Churchill Downs, Wild On Ice “was evaluated at the Churchill Downs equine medical center and was subsequently transported to Lexington (Kentucky) to an equine surgical facility for further evaluation.”

It was announced later in the morning that the 3-year-old son of Tapizar was euthanized based on the severity of the injury.

“He had a fracture in his hind leg, and it was determined he couldn’t be saved. Wild On Ice had so much heart,” owner Frank Sumpter told Felix Chavez of the El Paso Times.

“He’ll forever be remembered. It's a sad situation,” Sumpter said. “These horses give us so many great moments in life, and our team puts in so many hours taking care of the horses.”

Wild On Ice was a three-time winner from five career starts, and most recently was an upset winner of the Grade three Sunland Derby, which prompted Sumpter and trainer Joel Marr to nominate the gelding to the Triple Crown and have him run in the May 6 Kentucky Derby.

Trainer Joel Marr watches as Wild On Ice returns to the winner’s circle after capturing the Grade 3, $600,000 Sunland Derby March 26 at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. Photo courtesy Coady Photography

This was going to be the first starter in the Kentucky Derby for both owner and trainer, as well as jockey Ken Tohill. At 60 years old, Tohill was set to become the oldest jockey to ride in the 149-year history of the race, the highlight of a 45-year career in the saddle.

“All I could tell you is that whomever makes it all the way to compete in this category should truly appreciate it. You can have the most caring and responsible trainer. A wonderful, big hearted owner and a talented young horse,” Tohill told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Just figuring it out and still not be able to make it through adversities and risk factors in the game we so much love.”

Wild On Ice won the Sunland Derby at odds of 35-to-1 after finishing third and ninth in two prior starts during his 3-year-old campaign. Before that, Wild On Ice won both his starts as a 2-year-old at Zia Park near Hobbs.

With Wild On Ice out, John Shirreffs-trained Skinner moves from the top of the standby list and into the main field of 20 for the Kentucky Derby. The third-place finisher in the Grade one Santa Anita Derby (G1) has been preparing for the race in California.

“We’ll keep Skinner on his schedule,” Shirreffs said Sunday to the media team at Santa Anita. “If we hear something early enough, we’d go, but if we don’t, I don’t know.”

Skinner would be due for a breeze this weekend.

Wild On Ice was likely to be a massive long shot in the Kentucky Derby. The Grade three Sunland Derby may not be the most heralded or attractive qualifying race on the road to the Kentucky Derby, but the race did produce 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and 2015 runner-up Firing Line.