The withdrawal of contender Hoppertunity from the 140th Kentucky Derby on Thursday left the door open for alternate Pablo Del Monte to step in, but the horse's handlers have declined the opportunity.
According to Marty McGee of Daily Racing Form, trainer Wesley Ward has officially scratched his horse from the Run for the Roses:
BREAKING NEWS: Pablo Del Monte is OUT of the #KyDerby, per text from trainer W.Ward.— Marty McGee (@DRFMcGee) May 2, 2014
As seen in this photo courtesy of The Courier-Journal's Annie Moore, Pablo Del Monte's stable was empty on Friday morning:
Pablo Del Monte is officially out, a scratch for the Kentucky Derby pic.twitter.com/lEklR4qXxm— Annie Moore (@AnyMoreSports) May 2, 2014
The fact that Pablo Del Monte would have had to assume the far outside post was the biggest factor in the decision to hold him out, per Jonathan Lintner of The Courier-Journal:
Ward acknowledged that having Pablo Del Monte sit was a very real possibility after Hoppertunity was scratched, according to Lintner, but he also admitted that entering Pablo Del Monte into the race would have been a dream come true for him personally.
"It would be the greatest honor of my life to have a horse in the Kentucky Derby that I bred and raised, especially this one," Ward said prior to the decision to scratch Pablo Del Monte.
This scratch doesn't have a major impact on the race from a betting perspective since Pablo Del Monte was among the longest shots at 50-1, per KentuckyDerby.com, but it does jumble the starting order even more.
According to McGee, the No. 1 post position will now be vacated with the first 10 horses sliding in one spot:
With Pablo Del Monte SCR, the No. 1 post will be left open, and Nos. 1-10 all scoot down one slot. #KyDerby— Marty McGee (@DRFMcGee) May 2, 2014
That means the horses will still be starting in the same position per se, but there will be more room between them and the rail once the race starts.
Pablo Del Monte's owners and trainer have the right to do whatever they want with their horse in terms of which races he runs, but it feels like they willingly passed up on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Was scratching Pablo Del Monte the right decision?
Even if they didn't feel as though their horse had a legitimate chance to win, perhaps he could have pulled off a surprise. He was coming off a third-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes behind Kentucky Derby horses Dance With Fate and Medal Count, so it isn't as if he would have been out of place.
If the plan is to potentially enter him into the Preakness Stakes in a couple weeks, then Pablo Del Monte will be well rested if nothing else.
The Kentucky Derby horses now have one less opponent to deal with, and it will be interesting to see what type of effect the additional space has on Saturday's race.
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