English-based Toast of New York, winner of last Saturday's Group 2 U.A.E. Derby, is becoming ever less likely to line up at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. Owner Michael Buckley told Racing UK Friday that it would be "unfair" to send the still-progressing colt off on further international travels to the Kentucky Derby.
Speaking after his Beat That won a Grade 1 over the jumps at Aintree, the Sefton Novices' Hurdle, Buckley emphasized that he was taking a long-term view with Toast of New York.
"The horse got back (from Dubai) on Monday night," Buckley said. "He's just having a walk round this week.
"He's in great shape. He's got a wonderful constitution. Obviously it took a lot out of him. He lost 10 kilos in the race and by Monday morning he had put it all back on again and lost a fair bit coming back.
"It was a hell of an experience for a horse used to going to Wolverhampton, where there's usually not many people there.
"No decisions have been made, but I think it's fair enough to say I don't think the concept of going off to Kentucky on the other side of the world and slogging around on the dirt is a fair thing to do with a horse like him.
"It's a time when three-year-olds are growing and maturing and he's been hard training the whole year. I just think it will be unfair to do that. I think he might develop even more. He's a horse with a lot of potential. He's very good and we think it's right to give him the time to prove how good he is."
Indeed, if connections are entertaining Derby thoughts, their focus is primarily on Epsom, not Churchill Downs. Trainer Jamie Osborne is reportedly supplementing Toast of New York to the Group 1 Derby at Epsom June 7. He already has engagements in the Group 1 Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket on May 3 -- Kentucky Derby Day -- as well as the Group 1 Irish Derby at the Curragh June 28.
By virtue of his successful stakes debut in the U.A.E. Derby, Toast of New York earned 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby, propelling him into second on the leaderboard. Should connections formally withdraw him from consideration, that would help other contenders in danger of being on the bubble. Prominent on that list is Holy Bull winner Cairo Prince, who has a total of only 24 points after his flat fourth as the 6-5 favorite in the Florida Derby.