THE FACTOR – Trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday morning that he was “leaning against” running George Bolton and Fog City Stable’s The Factor the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I). But Bolton made it official in late morning: The Factor will not run in Derby 137.
“It’s too much too quick,” Botlon said via telephone. “We don’t want to run a horse that isn’t right. He’s basically miler pedigree that is good enough to go further.
The right thing for The Factor is to wait and go either to Preakness, Met Mile, Woody Stephens or something like that.”
The Factor galloped on Tuesday during a break in the rain that has pelted Churchill Downs for days, but Baffert cancelled a planned workout for the colt on Wednesday. Baffert said his“gut feeling” was telling to pass on the 1 ¼-mile classic on May 7.
"We don’t want to rush him into it and pay for it down the road, because he’s such a good horse,” he said. “I have a feeling that if I did run him in the Derby, I’d have a chance of ruining him.”
Baffert also revealed that The Factor had undergone a minor throat surgery on the day after his April 19 arrival at Churchill Downs. The issue surfaced when the colt displaced his soft palate during the running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (GI) on April 16 at Oaklawn Park. The Factor finished seventh that day, an effort led to the decision to perform a myectomy.
“That’s why I did it (the surgery),” Baffert said. “(Veterinarian) Dr. (Mark) Cheney looked at him and said it would be good for him because he was displacing really easy.”
“We did the right thing today," said Bolton. "Bob and I talked and we said get out today, give our spot to someone else who can work a horse and get ready for it, and we’re doing the right thing to announce it now and not wait.”
The defection of The Factor leaves Arnold Zetcher’s Midnight Interlude as his lone starter in the Kentucky Derby. The winner of the Santa Anita Derby (GI) worked six furlongs in company with older stablemate Mythical Power in 1:13.80.
UNCLE MO -- –After days of answering questions about the health of Mike Repole’s onetime Kentucky Derby favorite Uncle Mo, trainer Todd Pletcher was optimistic on Tuesday following a five-furlong work at Churchill Downs that was the colt’s first serious training move since his stunning defeat in the $1 million Wood Memorial (GI) on April 9.
Uncle Mo stepped on the sloppy Churchill Downs surface when the gates to the track opened for training at 5:45 a.m. (all times Eastern) and worked five furlongs in 1:01.80. The reigning 2-year-old champion worked in company with Repole’s older stablemate Calibrachoa and worked in fractional splits of :113.20, :25.40 and :37.40. Uncle Mo, who worked under jockey John Velazquez on the outside of Calibrachoa, finished just ahead of his workmate and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.60.
“Uncle Mo worked very well,” Plether said. “He looked like he handled the surface very well. The time was sort of in the range of what we were looking for. He came back very well.”
Pletcher said Uncle Mo continues to respond to treatment for a gastrointestinal inflammation discovered after the Wood.
He said there were signs in the “last 96 hours” that Uncle Mo was “back to his old self” as the Kentucky Derby draws near.
“I think this morning’s work was an indication he was in good form. I was particularly pleased with the way he finished his work. He didn’t need to be asked at all. When he was pulling up on the backside a couple of gallopers went by him and he grabbed the bridle again. He seemed really, really good this morning.”
Pletcher said Uncle Mo’s final pre-Kentucky Derby work would likely come on Sunday or Monday.