Mark Valeski
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Mark Valeski
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Anne M. Eberhardt

Mark Valeski Withdrawn From Derby

Opens the door for Lukas-trained Optimizer to draw into the field.

Brereton C. Jones' homebred Mark Valeski  was declared out of the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum!  Brands (gr. I) the morning of May 1. Entries for the Derby will be taken Wednesday, May 2.

Trainer Larry Jones said the colt is fine, but that he did not feel like the son of Proud Citizen belonged in the race. Jones, who had said over the weekend that there was a chance the colt would be withdrawn, said Mark Valeski will be pointed to other races. He cited the May 12 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) and June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) as possibilities.

Mark Valeski was coming into the Derby off consecutive second-place finishes in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) and Louisiana Derby (gr. II).

Jones had said an April 30 workout by Mark Valeski would help determine the colt’s readiness for the Derby. The colt breezed five furlongs in 1:00 1/5.

“We really were looking for a ‘wow’ work and we don’t think Mark gave us that feeling that Believe You Can did,” Larry Jones said of the filly he has entered in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). “When you go in, you’ve got to be ready to tackle the bears. This is the Derby."

The withdrawal opens the way for Optimizer , who was 21st on the graded earnings list that will be used to determine the 20-horse starting field, to now be in the field.

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Mark Valeski is out of the Fortunate Prospect mare Pocho's Dream Girl. He has a 2-2-0 slate from five starts and has earned $310,952.

Both Brereton Jones and Larry Jones will be represented in the Kentucky Oaks with Believe You Can, a daugther of Proud Citizen. Proud Citizen stands at Jones' Airdrie Stud near Midway, Ky.