The Kentucky Derby lost a probable and a possible Friday when Eurosilver was declared out of the race May 1 and Halfbridled, last year's champion 2-year-old filly, ran into another training snag.
Eurosilver, one of trainer Nick Zito's three Derby hopefuls, has an infected neck gland and Zito said that he had run out of time to get the colt ready for the Derby. Eurosilver, a two-turn stakes winner as a 2-year-old, finished second in the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 13 but hasn't trained in more than a week.
Zito had hoped to run Eurosilver in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland next Saturday but dropped that plan last week. Zito's other Derby contenders are Birdstone and The Cliff's Edge.
Halfbridled, the 6-5 morning-line favorite in today's Ashland at Keeneland, suffered a recurrence of muscle cramps while galloping at the Kentucky track Friday morning. She's being treated with muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs, and her trainer, Richard Mandella, said she might run in the Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland on Thursday.
Mandella might not have run his filly in the Kentucky Derby, anyway, but he said Friday that the Derby was definitely out and he's now aiming for the Kentucky Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies, at Churchill Downs on April 30.
Halfbridled won all four starts last year, but her training had been compromised by a cough this winter at Santa Anita. Mandella missed a race with the filly, who was undefeated until she ran second to Silent Sighs in the Santa Anita Oaks on March 13.
Mandella still hopes to get to the Derby with Action This Day, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner who will run in the Blue Grass, and Minister Eric, who'll run in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 17.
With Halfbridled out, the 1 1/16-mile Ashland is reduced to four horses -- Ashado, Madcap Escapade, La Reina and Last Song.
In other Kentucky Derby developments, trainer Wayne Lukas will try to shoehorn his way into the race with two horses that have been badly beaten in recent starts. Lukas will run Hasslefree in the Arkansas Derby next Saturday, and send out Race For Glory in the Lexington.
-- Bill Christine