Trainer Todd Pletcher has decided take a chance with Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender Sunriver, so the colt will not run in Saturday's $325,000-added Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) at Keeneland.
Pletcher remains concerned that Aaron and Marie Jones' son of the late stallion Saint Ballado, a brother to his 2004 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Ashado, might be excluded from the Run for the Roses because of insufficient earnings in graded stakes races.
"We'll roll the dice and hope to get in here," said Pletcher. "He's doing well, and he probably does better with five weeks between races. And, if we run in the Lexington, we'd probably be compromising our chances in the Derby even if we did get in."
The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 starters. If more than 20 horses are entered, preference is given to horses based on their earnings in graded stakes races. Sunriver, who finished third in the Florida Derby (gr. I) in his stakes debut, has collected $100,000 in graded earnings and currently stands 22nd on the list of horses considered as likely entrants in Derby 132.
Pletcher said the decision to pass on the Coolmore Lexington was made before Tuesday's announcement by Godolphin that UAE Derby (UAE-II) winner Discreet Cat - the top horse on the Derby's graded earnings list - would not run in the Derby.
"Actually, we made the decision the day before," said Pletcher, "but that didn't hurt our feelings any."
Sunriver is one of Pletcher's three Derby contenders, a group that also includes Hutcheson (gr. III) winner Keyed Entry and Remsen (gr. II) winner Bluegrass Cat.
The trainer said Sunriver and Keyed Entry are scheduled to work at Churchill Downs April 23, and both would likely breeze after the break for track maintenance.
Pletcher labeled the Kentucky Derby status of Keyed Entry, who arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday, as "probable."
He said Bluegrass Cat, the fourth-place finisher in last week's Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) at Keeneland, would have just one work before the Derby. Pletcher said that work would probably come on the Sunday before the Derby.