Trainer Doug O’Neill confirmed Tuesday that Merv Griffin’s Cobalt Blue would not be entered in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), opening the door for Teuflesberg to get in the classic.
Citing the colt’s lackluster seventh-place in the Illinois Derby (gr. II) and his performance in a recent workout as reasons indications the colt was not ready, O’Neill said Griffin decided that it was in the horse’s best interests to return to California and regroup. Although he did not rule out the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), O’Neill said it was unlikely the son of Golden Missile would go to the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Cobalt Blue has won three of five lifetime starts, including the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II). O'Neill sent the colt out for a strong gallop Tuesday morning before calling to confer with Griffin. "He went great," O'Neill said afterwards.
The defection of Cobalt Blue opens the door for Teuflesberg, who is 21st on the graded stakes earnings list that serves as the preference list for the 20-horse starting field in the Derby, to go forward in the season’s first classic.
Trainer Jamie Sanders said she had a feeling Cobalt Blue would not run, but was glad to hear of a final decision.
"I kinda knew two days ago, but I'm relieved it's official," she said. "Doug O'Neill is a really nice person. He knew I was next in line so he called me this morning as soon as he got off the phone with his owner, which I really appreciated."
This marks the second year in a row that Griffin has had a Derby contender not run due to a setback. Last year, Griffin’s Stevie Wonderboy dropped off the Derby trail early in the season due to an injury.