Three-time Kentucky Derby (gr. I)-winning trainer Bob Baffert said April 29 he will not have a starter in this year's classic, noting that none of the contenders he had early in the season would be competitive in the 1 1/4-mile race.
"We just decided to wait," Baffert said of the May 4 Derby date. "When they tell us they're ready to go then they will go again."
The Hall of Fame conditioner was waiting on Sunland Derby (gr. III) winner Govenor Charlie, recovering from a foot bruise. He canceled a scheduled workout April 29 for Mike Pegram's son of Midnight Lute.
"You cannot have any kind of a hiccup," Baffert said. "Going into the Kentucky Derby, at a mile and a quarter, you just have to be so ready. He had a good chance in there (Derby) before he lost a little time.
"It's disappointing for the owners, but you have to be competitive...my owners are not going to run just for the heck of it. We're just going to watch. Good luck to everybody else."
Baffert said Code West, runner-up in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II), had been working well and could be in the Derby, but that he had been pointing the son of Lemon Drop Kid toward the June 8 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) all along.
"He could be in the Derby, but I don't think he would be competitive enough to run one, two, three... so we're going to hold off on him."
In addition to Govenor Charlie, Baffert had also been pointing Flashback to the Derby but the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) runner-up developed a small chip in his right knee. He has another talented 3-year-old in Power Broker.
"Later on, you are going to see them in big races, like the Preakness (gr. I), Belmont, and Travers (gr. I). You know, they are going to catch up to themselves. It's exciting to be at the Derby and all that, but you want to be competitive."