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Chitu throws protective shoe during drill from gate

Tanma Corporation's Chitu lost the special shoe on his right front foot Sunday while breezing six furlongs from the gate in 1:13 1/5. Hoppertunity, scheduled to have his final pre-Derby work on Monday, galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs.

Chitu, winner of the Sunland Derby, is being treated for seedy toe, a rare but potentially dangerous fungus condition. Trainer Bob Baffert said the colt is recovering nicely and that the shoe protects the hoof.

Jockey Martin Garcia, who will ride the colt in the Derby, flew in from California and was aboard for the the work. Working in company with the filly Party Time, Chitu turned in split times of :24 2/5, :36 1/5, :47 4/5 and 1:00 1/5. He galloped out the seven furlongs in 1:27 1/5.

"He worked very well from the gate," Baffert said. "Last week he was a little sluggish. But he's that way and Martin knows the horse really well. He worked a pretty solid three-quarters and I'm pretty happy about that."

Baffert said that he and his staff have dealt with Chitu's seedy toe issue for several months and it has not affected the colt's racing career. Chitu lost a piece of his hoof in the treatment of the condition and the special shoe gives additional support to the area.

"He runs in regular shoes," Baffert said. "It's a little fungus that gets in the toe and eats the front of the wall. It's not painful or anything. He's never been sore.

"It's growing out. The fungus is under control, but we just took a lot of the wall in the front of hoof off. It's not inside the foot. It's nothing painful. We always have it covered up, but right now we have it open so it can get air and dry out. He's fine."

Baffert also commented on his erstwhile Derby candidate Bayern. Disqualified from first to second in Saturday night's Derby Trial, he will not wheel back on short rest for Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

"Last night wasn't too bad," Baffert said. "We won, but got a little DQ action. I still haven't seen the replay of the head-on, but once they hang official there's not a whole lot you can say. You've just got to take it. I knew there was contact, whether it was incidental or they both ran into each other, whatever, but it was so close.

"I'm happy with my horse. At least he ran his race. He'll get a lot out of it. It was basically a prep for something else."

Baffert didn't say whether the Preakness might be the next race for Bayern.

"I'll just let my horse tell me what's next," he said. "We'll see how he comes out of it. He looks good today. We're still trying to figure out this horse. He's still a young horse and has a big future."

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