With Eskendereya’s defection from the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) due to some filling in his left front leg, he joins a select group of early favorites for the Run to the Roses that were declared from the race in the days leading up to the First Saturday in May.
Zayat Stables’ runaway winner of the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) and Wood Memorial (gr. I) easily would have been the morning line favorite for the May 1 classic.
He actually is the second Wood winner in as many years to not make the starting gate for the Derby.
Here’s a look at some of the more famous runners who strayed from the Triple Crown trail in the final days.
* I Want Revenge was scratched from last year’s Kentucky Derby the morning of the race by trainer Jeff Mullins after a filling was discovered in the colt’s left front ankle.
The son of Stephen Got Even won the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) by 81/2 lengths, then added the Wood to his resume with a 1 1/2-length victory. The colt shipped to Churchill Downs and put in a pair of works under the Twin Spires. His final tune-up was a :47 1/5 move for a half-mile the Tuesday before the Derby.
He was bred and raced by David Lanzman, who sold a portion of the colt prior to the Derby to IEAH Stables, Puglisi Racing, Charles Winner, Michael Dubb, and Steven Marshall.
Mine That Bird, a 50-1 shot, would win the Derby under Calvin Borel by 6 3/4 lengths over third-choice Pioneerof the Nile.
* A.P. Indy, while not the favorite, was a strong second choice to Arazi for the 1992 Run for the Roses. Trainer Neil Drysdale’s colt was the pride of the West Coast having won the San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) under Eddie Delahoussaye.
At Churchill Downs, A.P. Indy sustained a bruised left front hoof and was scratched the morning of the race. Arazi, the 9-10 favorite, faded in the stretch as 16-1 Lil E. Tee swept to the lead to win the Derby by a length over 29-1 shot Casual Lies.
A.P. Indy would rebound and not only win the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), but later beat older horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I). The son of Seattle Slew was named Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old colt. He has twice been North America’s leading sire by progeny earnings. He is the grandsire of I Want Revenge.
* In late April of 1966, Darby Dan’s Graustark became the “buzz” horse for the Triple Crown season. Unbeaten in seven starts, he was a heavy favorite to win the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, which at the time was run eight days before the Kentucky Derby. The son of Ribot carried a six-length lead in the stretch in the Blue Grass Stakes, but lost by a nose to Abe’s Hope. During the race he sustained a broken coffin bone, which ended his racing career.
Ford Stable’s Kauai King would go wire to wire to win the Derby under Kentucky jockey Don Brumfield.
* Christopher T. Chenery’s Sir Gaylord was a solid choice for the 1962 Derby, but suffered a hairline fracture while blowing out for the race the day before and didn’t make the Run for the Roses. Decidedly would go and win on the First Saturday in May as an 8-1 shot under Bill Hartack. Sir Gaylord had defeated Decidedly earlier on the Triple Crown trail in the Everglades Stakes at Hialeah.
* In 1957, a bruise in the left front foot of Calumet Farm’s Gen. Duke was discovered after his determined win over Bold Ruler in the March 30 Florida Derby. He responded to treatment, but the bruise was aggravated while he ran in the Derby Trial, which was run on the Tuesday of Derby week. He was scratched the day before the Derby by trainer Jimmy Jones after the colt worked a quarter mile. His rider, Bill Hartack, picked up the mount on stablemate Iron Liege.
Sent off at 8-1 in a nine-horse Derby field, Hartack and Iron Liege won by a nose over Gallant Man. In a famous Derby stretch run, Bill Shoemaker, aboard Gallant Man, misjudged the finish line and briefly stood up as they passed the sixteenth pole. Favored Bold Ruler finished fourth.