As Churchill Downs prepared for Saturday’s opening-day card, a case of Derby fever was making its way around the stable area as trainers of Bwana Bull and Teuflesberg said their horses would be pointed toward the May 5 classic.
Both horses were scheduled to be scratched out of Saturday’s Derby Trial on the Churchill card.
The decision by Jerry Hollendorfer to leave Bwana Bull, the Santa Catalina and California Derby winner, in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) could result in Teuflesberg being denied entry in the Derby.
If more than 20 horses are entered in the Derby, preference is given based on earnings in graded stakes. Bwana Bull is 20th on that list, with $125,000 in graded earnings, followed by Southwest Stakes winner Teuflesberg, with $122,942. Teuflesberg is also entered in the Derby Trial, shortened in distance this year from a mile to 7 ½ furlongs.
“He’s doing really well,” assistant trainer Joe Hernandez said Saturday morning of Bwana Bull. “He will probably work Sunday or the next day or so. He really needs it.”
Hernandez said Bwana Bull sustained a superficial wound to his flank by his stifle while walking up the ramp before being shipped to Kentucky, but that it was being treated and was not a problem for the 3-year-old son of Holy Bull.
Bwana Bull has compiled a record of four wins from nine starts and earned $259,962.
Meanwhile, trainer Jamie Sanders said she would keep Teuflesberg on track for the Derby in the hope that a horse higher on graded earnings list would defect before entries are taken Wednesday.
If the Johannesburg colt does not get into the Derby, Sanders said he would run in either the Crown Royal American Turf or the Woodford Reserve, both turf races at Churchill, and go on the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Teuflesberg is scheduled to work at Churchill Sunday morning.
“I’m pretty confident we will (get in),” said Sanders. “I think our horse is ready, and he’s been ready.”
One of the most accomplished runners being aimed at the Derby, Teuflesberg has won four of 15 starts and earned $385,431.
Sanders said she would like to see the Derby preference criteria changed to total earnings rather than graded earnings so that a horse like Teuflesberg would not face the possibility of being excluded.