Pablo Del Monte, the also-eligible who got a chance to draw in to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) following the withdrawal of Rebel Stakes (gr. II) winner Hoppertunity, will not contest the Run for the Roses, trainer Wesley Ward said May 2.
With his absence, a field of 19 is set to contest the Kentucky Derby led by 5-2 favorite California Chrome . Starting stall No. 1 in the gate will be left open, which moves California Chrome from his assigned 5 slot into stall No. 6. Pablo Del Monte's connections and the connections of Hoppertunity both paid the $25,000 entry fee, so the Derby purse remains $2,202,800.
Hoppertunity, an Any Given Saturday colt conditioned by Bob Baffert, developed a foot issue May 1 that "probably came up from the work on the wet track" three days earlier, the Hall of Fame trainer said. He was to ship to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington for an examination.
"We're pretty sure it's the foot, but we just want to make sure that it's nothing else, so we can continue on with him for the Preakness (Stakes, gr. I)," Baffert said in an earlier article.
Following the withdrawal of Hoppertunity around 9 a.m. ET May 1, Pablo Del Monte's connections contemplated the decision. Ward confirmed to Churchill Downs racing secretary Ben Huffman just before the 9 a.m. Friday scratch time that the Giant's Causeway colt would not run. The Churchill publicity office said the connections wanted to wait for the Preakness and a better post position than the 20 hole from which he would have started in the Derby.
Third in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 12 on the Polytrack at Keeneland, Pablo Del Monte has two wins earned last season at that Lexington oval—a 4 1/2-furlong maiden debut by five lengths in the spring, and a 6 1/2-furlong allowance event by 7 1/2 lengths in the fall. He was bred by Ward and is now co-owned by the trainer and Coolmore partners Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Michael Tabor.
Pablo Del Monte has two previous starts on dirt, finishing third in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. III) sprinting seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park in February, and fourth before that in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year's Day.
Ron Mitchell contributed to this report.
Watch the May 1 News Update for exclusive interviews with Baffert and Ward.