The 140th Kentucky Derby may be fast approaching, but Hopportunity will not have a chance to “run for the roses” Saturday after being scratched by trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert decided to pull his colt yesterday because of problems with his left forefoot. He still plans to run Chitu, however.
“We felt more comfortable withdrawing him and we are going to get him scanned. We are pretty sure it’s the foot, but we want to make sure there isn’t anything else wrong so we can continue on with him for the Preakness in two weeks,” Baffert stated, adding that veterinarian Larry Bramlage was tending to Hopportunity at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington.
Hopportunity had been considered the second choice at 6-1, and had drawn post position 11 in the middle of the field. Because he was scratched, all the horses outside of him will now move up one space in the gate although their saddlecloth numbers will not change. His withdrawal also allowed room for Pablo Del Monte to run, although his trainer Wesley Ward was not very enthusiastic about sending the 50-1 longshot from post 20 (formerly held by Wicked Strong, who will now run from post position 19). Ward, who owns 25% of the colt said he will discuss the matter with co-owners Mrs John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor of the Coolmore group based in Ireland. Running Pablo Del Monte would require them to put up a non-refundable fee of $25,000.
Although California Chrome was proclaimed the odds on favorite for the Derby, Intense Holiday has been attracting a lot of late backers, who see the colt faring far better in the race than stablemate We Miss Artie, despite having only won 1 stakes race, the Grade II Risen Star. Both horses are part of Todd Pletcher’s “package” this year, along with Danza and Vinceremos.