Ring Weekend is out of the Kentucky Derby due to a fever and his defection means that the #21 horse on the Derby qualification table–Commanding Curve–is in the race. Tampa Bay Derby winner Ring Weekend was found to be running a fever and have an elevated white blood cell count on Sunday morning and the decision was made by his West Point Thoroughbreds ownership group not to ship him to Churchill Downs. His condition doesn’t appear to be serious but his connections felt it prudent to err on the side of caution.
Commanding Curve now steps in to the Derby field. His trainer, Dallas Stewart, is no stranger to life on ‘the bubble’ and said as much when interviewed last week:
“Nothing you can do, just bite your nails and wait, I guess. You can’t wish bad luck on anybody. You just have to see what happens. We got about 10 days.”
His patience was rewarded on Sunday, though he isn’t completely happy with the circumstances surrounding the Derby bid:
“Actually, a friend of mine owns a piece of Ring Weekend, owns a piece of this horse here. I feel very sorry for him. I’d have loved to have seen both horses in there for him. It’s a tough thing. But they’ve got the right people, Graham Motion. Terry is great to train for. He always does the right thing by the horse. It doesn’t matter what the race is. For 20 years I’ve been working for him, and he never once went the wrong way on an issue like that.”
Shaun Bridgmohan will ride Commanding Curve in the Kentucky Derby. Commanding Curve finished 6th in the Risen Star but gave a solid effort in the Louisiana Derby, finishing third. The Kentucky Derby field may experience more changes early this week as other horses may withdraw prior to the setting of the post positions on Wednesday. At this point the official opening ‘morning line’ odds for the race will be set. The Kentucky Derby will be held at the Churchill Downs race track in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, May 4 and will be televised on NBC in the United States.