Bob Baffert can’t catch a break this Kentucky Derby season. He was hoping to get Bayern into the race and that didn’t happen. Now Baffert has been forced to scratch Rebel Stakes winner and Santa Anita Derby runner up Hopportunity out of the Kentucky Derby due to what is hoped to be a minor foot injury.
Baffert made the announcement early Thursday morning but indicated that he first noticed something was amiss on Wednesday during a jog. He noticed some damage to the horse’s shoe at the time. When the horse made no improvement during a Thursday morning job the trainer decided to err on the side of caution and scratch him from the race. The hope is that Hopportunity is suffering from a foot bruise but just to make sure Baffert is sending the horse to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky for an examination by top flight equine vet Dr. Larry Bramlage.
The trainer indicated that if the diagnosis is just a foot bruise the horse could be ready to run on May 17 in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Baffert said that he wasn’t going to run Hopportunity in the Kentucky Derby if he was less than 100% healthy:
“He had to be 100 percent. I don’t feel good about it. I’m pretty sure it’s the foot. It needs a couple of days to soak in hot water and Epsom salts. We ran out of time. We have to get him right. He’s not 100 percent this morning. It’s too close to the race, so I pulled the plug.”
Hopportunity’s exit from the race opened the door for the ‘Also Eligible’ horse, Pablo Del Norte. Pablo Del Norte moves in to the #20 post position at morning line odds of 50/1. He’s considered something of a ‘synthetic specialist’–he’s run on dirt before but his best performances have been on synthetic. The Kentucky Derby will take place on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs race track in Louisville, Kentucky. It is the first race of horse racing’s ‘Triple Crown’ followed by the Preakness Stakes in mid May and Belmont Stakes in early June