Skinner has become the latest horse to be scratched from the Kentucky Derby.
Trainer John Shirreffs said Friday the California-based colt has an elevated temperature.
With the defection of Skinner, the field for the 149th Derby on Saturday is down to 19 horses. The scratch deadline was 9 a.m. EDT Friday, so no other horses can be added to the field. Three horses scratched on Thursday.
Forte is the early 3-1 favorite for the Derby. The colt stumbled during training on Thursday, but he was out again Friday without a problem. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, “Everything is on course at the moment.”
Practical Move, Lord Miles and Continuar from Japan were scratched on Thursday. That moved Cyclone Mischief, Mandarin Hope from Japan and King Russell into the race.
Practical Move also had a elevated temperature. Lord Miles’ trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. was suspended indefinitely by Churchill Downs Inc. days after two of his horses died on the track after races. Investigators have yet to find the cause of either death. Continuar was scratched because his trainer said he was not in top form to run.
The storyline of Derby week has been the number of horses scratched from the race, as four were removed from the field in a 24-hour period from Thursday to Friday. Santa Anita Derby winner Practical Move (10-1) was a contender of note but was the first horse scratched from the race on Thursday due to an elevated temperature.
Lord Miles was also scratched Thursday by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission out of precaution after two horses trained by Lord Miles’ trainer, Saffie Joseph. Jr., died in races at Churchill Downs earlier this week. Joseph has been suspended indefinitely by Churchill Downs Inc.
Continuar became the third horse scratched on Thursday, with his trainer citing lack of “peak fitness required” to compete in the Derby. On Friday morning, popular Derby underdog Skinner became the fourth horse scratched in a 24-hour period, with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission citing an elevated temperature as the reason. With only three horses as alternates, the fourth scratch reduces the size of the field to 19.
Another of Joseph’s horses, Lord Miles, has been scratched from the 149th Kentucky Derby, which takes place Saturday. Post time for the race is 6:57 p.m. ET.
“Given the unexplained sudden deaths, we have reasonable concerns about the condition of his horses, and decided to suspend him indefinitely until details are analyzed and understood,” Churchill Downs Incorporated President Bill Mudd said. “The safety of our equine and human athletes and integrity of our sport is our highest priority. We feel these measures are our duty and responsibility.”
This year’s Derby will be run after a number of high-profile deaths and injuries at the famed track.
“In the past week, four horses have died at Churchill Downs including a Kentucky Derby qualifier,” member station Louisville Public Media reports. “Two more were pulled from their races due to injuries Wednesday.”
Comes into the Derby on a five-race winning streak and is the early 3-1 favorite. Rallied in the Florida Derby to win by a length after being ninth in the early going. Lost just once in seven career races, as a 2-year-old. He’s trying to become just the fourth 2-year-old champion since 1980 to go on and win the Derby. Forte is one of three horses in the race trained by Todd Pletcher, a two-time Derby winner. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. knows the colt well, having ridden him in all of his races. Forte is co-owned by Mike Repole, whose Uncle Mo was the early favorite for the 2011 Derby but scratched the day before because of illness. His other owner is Vincent Viola, who owns the NHL’s Florida Panthers and co-owned Always Dreaming, the 2017 Derby winner trained by Pletcher.
One of two Japanese horses in the field, along with Mandarin Hero. They’re just the third and fourth Japan-bred entries in Derby history. Derma Sotogake is coming off a wire-to-wire victory by 5 1/2 lengths in the UAE Derby. Owner Hiroyuki Asanuma is a dermatologist in Hokkaido who uses the word derma as the first part of all his horses’ names. Sotogake is an outside leg trip in sumo wrestling. Continuar was scratched Thursday after his trainer said the colt was not in peak physical condition. That opened up a spot for another Japanese horse, Mandarin Hero, who finished second by a nose in the Santa Anita Derby.
The horse comes off a 10-week layoff, much longer than most contenders. He won the Rebel Stakes by a length on Feb. 25. The dark bay colt was purchased for $25,000, making him the cheapest horse in the field. Perhaps tellingly, his other two career victories came at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old. His sire is Candy Ride, who also produced 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner. Trainer Keith Desormeaux is the brother of Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux.
Luis Saez rode Maximum Security in 2019 and received a 15-day suspension for interfering with others; he’s seeking his first Derby win aboard Tapit Trice. Florent Geroux, who was on Mandaloun, is on Jace’s Road.
For the second straight year, the Derby is without Bob Baffert. The Hall of Fame trainer with a record-tying six victories is soon to complete a two-year ban by Churchill Downs Inc. He was punished after Medina Spirit flunked a post-race drug test.
Baffert’s shadow still looms large over the Twin Spires. A colt previously trained by him, Reincarnate, will be in the starting gate.
Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. found himself on the sideline after being indefinitely suspended Thursday by Churchill Downs Inc. His Derby entry, Lord Miles, was scratched. Two of Joseph’s horses died after races at the track in the days leading up to the Derby. No cause of death has yet been found.
New antidoping and medication rules to be enforced by the sport’s new central governing body won’t take effect until May 22, after the Derby and the Preakness.
Japan is represented by Derma Sotogake and Mandarin Hero, giving the nation two chances to win the Derby for the first time.
Derma Sotogake and Two Phil’s are the most experienced runners in the field, having made eight career starts.
“He has a lot of experience and it has made him tougher and tougher,” said Christophe Lemaire, who will ride Derma Sotogake. ”It is important to have that experience with 18 other horses in a high-level race.”
Pletcher said veterinarians from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will continue to monitor Forte, as they do with each Kentucky Derby contender leading into the race.
Forte was the 2-year-old champion and enters the Kentucky Derby with a five-race winning streak.
“He’s showed up and run well every start of his life,” Pletcher said, “and would expect no different from him.”
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