Gander Winner Nicky The Vest Sidelined After Surgery To Remove Chip

Trainer Jonathan Thomas said Robert V. LaPenta’s Nicky the Vest had surgery to remove a chip in the lower joint of his right knee. He reported that the New York-bred son of Runhappy could return to his barn on June 1.

A winner of both career starts, Nicky the Vest was last seen winning the Gander on February 15 at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, N.Y., against his Empire State-bred counterparts. The 11 ¾-length romp in the one-turn mile promoted Thomas to consider the Grade 2 Wood Memorial, but ultimately stopped on the horse following his most recent work.

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s hopefully inconsequential but it was enough to bother the horse,” Thomas said of the operation. “Dr. [John] Madison did it at Ocala Equine on Monday. He cleaned up nicely, the prognosis is good and fingers crossed he’s back with us June 1.”

Bred in New York by Highclere, Nicky the Vest was purchased for $110,000 at the 2019 OBS October Yearling Sale. He is the sixth progeny out of the Cat Thief mare Tazarine, whose other five progeny are all winners.

While Nicky the Vest will be on the shelf for the time being, Hard Love will make his sophomore debut for Thomas in Saturday’s $100,000 Woodhaven going 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds.

Owned by LaPenta in partnership with George Strawbridge, Jr.’s Augustin Stable, the son of Kitten’s Joy was victorious on debut at 11-1 odds going 1 1/16 miles over the outer turf at Belmont Park. He stalked a moderate pace, established command in upper stretch and battled with runner-up Big Everest to a two-length win.

Hard Love saw similar tactics in his next-out stakes debut, where he stalked gate-to-wire winner Never Surprised throughout the 1 1/16-mile journey.

“He’s going to be a little bit short, but he still has enough foundation for a spot like the Woodhaven,” Thomas said. “He’s trained well and we’re hopeful that this can lead him into longer races into the year. We’re happy with him and we’re a go for the Woodhaven.”

Thomas picked Hard Love for $200,000 out of last year’s OBS April Sale, where he was consigned by Eddie Woods.

Other probable starters for Saturday’s Woodhaven include Sifting Sands, Original, Shawdyshawdyshawdy and Extrasexybigdaddee.

The post Gander Winner Nicky The Vest Sidelined After Surgery To Remove Chip appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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