The Kentucky Derby odds board got a shakeup on Thursday when one of the top horses in the race–Hoppertunity–was forced to withdraw due to an injured foot. His withdrawal meant that the ‘also eligible’ horse, Pablo Del Monte, was now in the field. But despite being eligible Pablo Del Monte’s connections have decided not to run in the Kentucky Derby and will instead focus on the May 17 Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Track.
That leaves 19 horses in the field for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. Almost as soon as Pablo Del Monte became eligible trainer and part owner Wesley Ward made a case for his colt to enter ‘The Run for the Roses’ but his reticence was apparent:
“It’s amazing to have the opportunity to run. I own 25 percent of the horse. With my 25 percent there is nothing I’d love better, with a horse that I bred, than to run. But I have to go with what my partners want to do, and respect it.”
Ward explained that getting into the race was something of a surprise and that the original plan was to focus on the Preakness. He hadn’t talked to his ownership partners yet but it sounded like the writing was already on the wall:
“The original plan, when we weren’t in the race, was to go to the Preakness because we didn’t think we’d have this decision to make. We felt the spacing of five weeks between races was ideal and that everything looked good. But I’m hopeful they’ll want to run in the Derby.”
Ward said there are some logistical issues–his partners are based in Ireland–that prevent an expedient decision to be rendered on Thursday:
“They’re all in Europe and six hours ahead of us. I know they’re going to talk later on this afternoon. We should have a decision later this evening or tomorrow morning.”
Ward insisted at the time that he wasn’t concerned about moving in to the #20 post position. Ultimately that would be one of the primary justifications for pulling Pablo Del Monte from the race:
“I think it sort of helps me a little bit. Obviously, in a mile-and-a-quarter race, it’s a factor, but when you’re speed and you’re on the outside, it’s not like you’re in the 2-hole or the 5-hole. He can have a nice relaxed break on the outside where he can either go to the lead or tuck in in the forefront of the race.”
The Kentucky Derby will take place Saturday afternoon from the Churchill Downs race track in Louisville, Kentucky.