2 contenders out of Ky. Derby field; 3 more in question

Even though the Kentucky Derby preps are done, the field is still not fully set.

While undefeated Blue Grass Stakes (G2) winner Essential Quality leads a list of virtually certain starters, connections for no fewer than five horses left the door open to turning down invitations.

An updated Kentucky Derby leaderboard released by Churchill Downs Monday afternoon specifies that neither Weyburn nor Proxy will be in the Derby starting gate.

Horse Racing Nation reported earlier Monday that Weyburn was unlikely for the race after finishing fourth in the Wood Memorial (G2) last weekend. According to the new leaderboard, he is pointed to the May 8 Peter Pan (G3) at Belmont Park.

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At 21st in the qualifying standings with only 20 places in the gate, Proxy got the defection he needed to join the field.

But his connections already had said he probably wouldn’t start, and Godolphin president Jimmy Bell texted earlier that a start in the Derby was “highly unlikely regardless of the circumstances.”

Still undecided is whether the field will include Concert Tour, who finished third as the odds-on favorite Saturday in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Owner Gary West said in a text to HRN, “Not sure. That will be a last-minute decision made by the trainer.”

That would be Bob Baffert, who would not commit to sending the previously undefeated colt to Churchill Downs. “Came out well,” is all that Baffert texted Sunday in response to questions about the Derby. Last week Baffert said, “You need to run first or second unless that third was a troubled trip.”

A second-place finish last month in the UAE Derby (G2) qualified Panadol for the trip to Kentucky. Dubai-based trainer Salem Bin Ghadayer told Horse Racing Planet in the U.K. late last week “it is 70 percent he will go, 30 percent he won’t.”

Crowded Trade, one of the two qualifiers owned by Seth Klarman and trained by Chad Brown, might skip the Derby. Brown told the Daily Racing Form he was “strongly leaning” toward training him right up to the Preakness after this month’s third-place finish in the Wood Memorial (G2). Blue Grass runner-up Highly Motivated seems the more likely of their two horses to go to Louisville.

The defections mean the latest invitee is Rombauer, who concluded third in the Blue Grass behind Essential Quality and Highly Motivated.

The next three colts on the leaderboard are Hidden Stash, Dream Shake and O Besos. They would be invited in that order to step in if connections opt out of sending horses ranked ahead of them.

Final decisions on whether to go forward will be due at the time of entries the morning of Tuesday, April 27. In the case of Panadol, he would have to go into quarantine by next week before being shipped to the U.S.

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