Mayakovsky, no longer being considered for Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

Mayakovsky, no longer being considered for Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Derby Plans for Mayakovsky Abandoned; Positive News for Windward Passage

Plans to run Mayakovsky in the Kentucky Derby have been abandoned and a workout scheduled for Wednesday cancelled by trainer Patrick Biancone.

Biancone, who had said there was a "50-50" chance that Mayakovsky would run in the Derby, said Wednesday morning that Mayakovsky had been considered only as a backup for Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier's Johannesburg, the champion 2-year-old colt of last year. Consideration of Mayakovsky for the Derby was ruled out after the safe arrival of Johannesburg and stablemate Castle Gandolfo in Lexington, Ky. on Tuesday.

"He was like the reserve quarterback," Biancone said. "The true pro arrived safely, so he will watch this one from the bench."

As a result of Mayakovsky's withdrawal, at least one horse on the list of Derby hopefuls will now be among the 20 that will contest the race. If more than 20 horses are entered in the Derby, preference is given on the basis of earnings in graded stakes races. Mayakovsky was 13th on the list and Windward Passage is 21st on the list.

On Tuesday, Mayakovsky's connections denied a persistent rumor that Mayakovsky would be entered, then scratched, to keep out Sunday Break, making that colt's scheduled rider, Gary Stevens, available for Tabor and Johannesburg.

The original plan was to run Mayakovsky in the Derby Trial and then point for the Preakness, but the colt was scratched fron thte Derby Trial because of the sloppy track condition on the opening-day card at Churchill Downs.

"I think this horse is the best 3-year-old in the country," Biancone said. "The problem is not physically; the problem is mentally. I want him to mature there, and I'm watching him every day to see if he is maturing enough to prove what I am saying. The Santa Anita Derby was a good lesson. He did exactly what a horse does that is not mature enough, he stumbled at the start because of the pressure. It's nothing to do with his ability. It's just that in his mind, he's too much a baby. Now he's here. He sees the crowd every day, and he starts to be used it. He's learning new lessons. From this, we hope he improves mentally. That's where we are. It could all change just like that. We'll see."

Biancone said he will wait until he sees how the Derby is run and which horses coming out the classic go on to Maryland before he decides if Mayakovsky will run in the Preakness Stakes.