Florida Derby runner up Wildcat Red appeared to be all set for the Kentucky Derby earlier in the week with Rafael Bejarano scheduled to be on board. That plan has changed, however, according to trainer Jose Garoffalo and now Luis Saez will ride Wildcat Red on May 4th at Churchill Downs. Saez was originally slated to be aboard Cairo Prince but found himself with an open dance card following the ankle injury suffered by the Holy Bull Stakes winner.
Saez was aboard Cairo Prince during his impressive victory on the Holy Bull Stakes and rode Wildcat Red to the win in the Fountain of Youth. Saez is one of four jockeys that Wildcat Red has had during his three year old -–Joel Rosario, Javier Castellano, and John Velazquez were the others. Garoffalo had these comments about the move:
“I spoke to the owners shortly after learning that Cairo Prince was out of the Derby and they decided they wanted Saez back on their horse for the Kentucky Derby. Luis was always one of our first options since he already knows the horse so well. In fact he’ll be on a plane to Florida tonight to work the horse for us in the morning, and will likely be there again next week for his final work at Churchill Downs.”
Garoffalo indicated that he’d left phone messages for Bejarano and his agent but at the time of his comments he’d not spoken to them. There will likely not be any ‘hard feelings’ as this type of musical chairs is very common in high level horse racing. There’s a better than average chance that Bejarano will be on board a different mount for the Kentucky Derby as he’s a well regarded and highly experienced jockey.
With Cairo Prince out and Blue Grass Stakes winner Dance With Fate in for the Kentucky Derby that leaves Wildcat Red in the ninth position for Derby qualification points. He’s been a highly regarded three year old contender since the start of the year and has never finished worse than second in seven career starts. With two firsts and two seconds in his three year old campaign there’s no reason he can’t be a strong contender on Derby day.