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One-eyed Patch is the 'feel-good story' of the Kentucky Derby

One-eyed Patch is the 'feel-good story' of the Kentucky DerbyIt's a gray, overcast morning at Churchill Downs when the contender trots out to begin his workout. The misshapen white hexagon marking on his forehead flashes as he ducks his head and paws at the dirt. Then the bay colt breaks into a gallop, running smoothly along the rail. It's not until he rounds the backside turn that onlookers get a glimpse of the hollow cavity on the left side of his face.
 
It's nothing new for Patch, the one-eyed horse whom trainer Todd Pletcher calls the "feel-good story" of the Kentucky Derby.
 
The silver-dollar-sized hole has been there since last June, when Patch's left eye was removed two weeks after veterinarians discovered massive inflammation in the globe of the eye.
 
The missing eye is what outwardly distinguishes Patch from the rest of the Derby field, but his trainer says it is in reality almost a non-factor.
 
"If you watched him train and didn't know that he had one eye, there’s no indication of him doing anything peculiar in his training or in his races that would make you concerned about the one eye," Pletcher said.
 
The most peculiar thing is that because a tissue biopsy was never taken, Patch's connections still don't know what caused the horse's eye problems. Pletcher said he arrived at the barn one June morning to find Patch's eye tearing heavily and nearly swollen shut. “I was concerned that it might compromise his ability in some way or the way he carried himself. I guess you don’t know for sure but it certainly doesn’t seem like it has.”
 
Weeks of treatment with antibiotics were unsuccessful. Veterinarians eventually opted to remove the eye and send Patch to Pletcher's father's training center in Ocala, Florida, for rehabilitation.
 

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