Jockey Gary Stevens, will not return to the U. S. for Kentucky Derby-Kentucky Oaks weekend.

Jockey Gary Stevens, will not return to the U. S. for Kentucky Derby-Kentucky Oaks weekend.

Associated Press

Derby Update: Baffert Goes Jock Shopping; Smarty's Plans Change

With no workouts at Churchill Downs on Wednesday by any Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contenders, the news of the day came from developments off the track.

Trainer Bob Baffert was again shopping for a rider for Preachinatthebar after he was informed that Gary Stevens will not return to the U. S. during the weekend of April 30-May 1 and will remain in France, where he is the contract rider for trainer Andre Fabre.

Baffert had said Corey Nakatani was the backup to Stevens for Preachinatthebar, who may not get into the race. With the Derby field restricted to 20 starters, the starting berths will be determined by earnings in graded stakes races. Preachinatthebar ranks 21st in graded stakes earnings among Derby contenders. Nakatani has now committed to ride Quntons Gold Rush.

Baffert said Stevens' agent, Craig O'Bryan, informed him that Stevens is staying in France to honor a commitment to a filly who is running that weekend. In addition to Preachinatthebar, Stevens was also scheduled to ride Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) wininer House of Fortune for trainer Ron McAnally in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). McAnally has gotten Shane Sellers for the filly.

In other Derby news Wednesday, trainer John Servis informed Churchill Downs officials that Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Smarty Jones will be vanned to Louisville from Lexington on Thursday, rather than Friday, as originally planned. Servis said the undefeated colt is still scheduled to work at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Friends Lake arrived at Churchill Downs around mid-morning Wednesday from Payson Park in Florida.