The list got a little smaller on Monday afternoon when trainer Chris Block officially declared Giant Oak out of Derby consideration. Not that this was a big surprise. He was off the Derby trail after his two sub-par efforts at the Fair Grounds during the winter but there was a faint hope after running second in the Illinois Derby. After deliberating for a couple of weeks, Block pulled the plug Monday. With his defection, Summer Bird becomes #2o on the Graded Stakes earnings list.
Other still waiting for defections: Join in the Dance, Take the Points, Atomic Rain, Just a Coincidence and Flat Out.
The others that are not definite yet (with their money rank): Regal Ransom (1), Square Eddie (3), Win Willy (14), and Advice (15). My hunch is that all of these horse will run.
The weekend highlights include:
- Advice winning Saturday's Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in a last-to-first move that gives trainer Todd Pletcher three Derby contenders (Dunkirk (17th in earnings) and Take the Points (23rd in earnings). One big strike against Advice - all but one race has been on "artificial" dirt. The race on the dirt was a fifth place finish in the Sunland Park Derby.
- Square Eddie, already with plenty of money to get in the Derby, ran third in the Lexington and appears he's a "go".
- Jockey Garrett Gomez, weighing which of two Derby heavyweights to ride, chose Pioneerof the Nile. Pletcher then reached out to Edgar Prado to fill the void on Dunkirk. That's a pretty good "bench player."
Workouts on Sunday:
- Papa Clem - 5 furlongs (5/8 mile) at Churchill in 1:04.60
- Friesan Fire - 6 furlongs (3/4 mile) at Keeneland in 1:39.60
- Mine That Bird - 5 furlongs (5/8 mile) at Churchill in 1:01
- Take The Points - 4 furlongs (1/2 mile) at Churchill in :47.40