LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Serena's Song, the filly who would have been one of the favorites in next Saturday's Kentucky Derby, will run instead in Friday's Kentucky Oaks, according to the agent of the jockey who rides her.
Bob Meldahl, who books mounts for Corey Nakatani, said at Hollywood Park on Friday that Wayne Lukas, who trains Serena's Song, told him that the plan is to run in the Oaks, a race for 3-year-old fillies. This option with Serena's Song frees Nakatani to ride In Character in the Derby.
Before leaving for nearby Keeneland on Friday, Lukas said that he probably will run Serena's Song in the Oaks, adding that he will make a decision sometime this weekend.
"I'm leaning more to the Oaks all the time," Lukas said. "We won't double enter her in both races and play it that late. Once we make a decision, that will be final."
Lukas is running two colts--Timber Country and Thunder Gulch--in the Derby. Bob and Beverly Lewis, who own Serena's Song and one-third of Timber Country, have said that the decision on Serena's Song is up to Lukas.
There is no clear-cut favorite for the Derby. Because of the overlapping ownership, Serena's Song and Timber Country would have run as one betting interest and probably would have been favored. The tepid favorite may now be Talkin Man, the Wood Memorial winner.
Only three fillies have won the Derby, and the most recent, Winning Colors, was saddled by Lukas in 1989.
"You dare to be great with a filly when you run one in the Derby," Lukas said. "But there's no question that you leave something on the track when you run one in the Derby. Serena's Song still has a long year in front of her."
Serena's Song, who beat colts in her last start, in the Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway Park, is undefeated in four starts this year, all of them with Nakatani riding. Nakatani also has been riding In Character, who will be a Derby longshot after finishing sixth in the Santa Anita Derby.