Owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm has decided to remove Coup de Grace from consideration for the Kentucky Derby following his 10th-place effort in Saturday's Holy Bull in his stakes and two-turn debut. Previously two-for-two, the Chad Brown pupil will now likely shorten up to regroup.
"Coup de Grace certainly surprised Chad and me and was a real disappointment. I see the race this way. We were not sure whether Coup de Grace could handle two turns and how far he could run effectively. Chad had his apprehensions about him going long since he first ran.
"One thing we thought we would surely discover from the Holy Bull Stakes was whether he could handle two turns and go another sixteenth of a mile. We did not discover either.
"The plan with the jockey was to take the lead if we got a good jump from the gate and found ourselves in front. Otherwise, we were going to relax and settle in behind the sure speed horse Almost Famous.
"Instead, after a poor break, he rushed him up to the front and took the lead and got into a speed duel with that horse. That was the last thing that we wanted. Then, amazingly as we approached the quarter-pole he was checked strongly for a reason unknown to me and that was the end of the race for Coup de Grace.
"When Chad spoke with the jockey after the race he never mentioned being pushed towards the rail or anything else about the brutal check.
"Worst than only beating one horse, we did not learn one thing about Coup de Grace that we were hoping to see. The race was a disaster for us but he seems to have come out of the race fine and he will live to run another day.
"Chad and I will discuss our options but the Derby trail is not one of them. We will probably take him back to one turn and see how he responds. He has a lot of talent and he will be a stakes horse this year."
Coup de Grace was a $300,000 Keeneland September purchase. The son of Tapit won at first asking in a six-furlong dash at Aqueduct November 9, beating next-out romper Unknown Road. Coup de Grace cleared his entry-level allowance condition around a one-turn mile at Gulfstream December 15. That effort made him the 3-1 second choice for the Holy Bull, with the impressive winner Cairo Prince dispatched as the 2-1 favorite.