LOUISVILLE — Trainer Kelly Breen and jockey Joe Bravo made their surprise appearance in the Churchill Downs media center one day earlier than hoped and for reasons neither wanted to experience.
Black Onyx, winner of the Grade III Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park in March, was scratched from Saturday's Kentucky Derby because of a chip discovered in his left front ankle, Breen said Friday.
Breen said the chip was non-displaced and was detected after Black Onyx was found to have some swelling following a routine gallop around the Churchill track in the morning. Breen said the colt was X-rayed around 9:30 a.m. and that while the first set of films were inconclusive, the second showed the chip.
"He actually looked pretty good training this morning, I just thought he was like anyone else having a bad day," Breen said. "But the filling after he was done training warranted the X-rays that resulted in the finding.
"On a scale of 1 to 5, it's like a minor limp."
Because notice of Black Onyx's withdrawal came after the 9 a.m. scratch time, Fear the Kitten — who was on the also-eligible list — had already been scratched.
Breen said he had hoped to have a prognosis on whether Black Onyx will require surgery by the end of the day Friday. The son of Rock Hard Ten will stay in Kentucky for the foreseeable future.
"He's not really feeling that bad because he just tried to bite me," Breen said. "It just couldn't have been worse timing. I've been saying all week how tough it is to get here."
Breen trains Black Onyx for owner Sam Herzberg, who was going to be represented by a Derby starter for the first time. In five career starts, Black Onyx — who was 50-1 in the morning line — had three wins with the 11⁄8-mile Spiral being his first try against graded stakes company.
"To be honest, I worked the horse the last two times and I didn't find a pimple on him," Bravo said. "He never showed me a sign of anything. Just really sorry for the whole team."
Black Onyx was slated to break from post position No. 1. Churchill Downs stewards decided the first stall in the starting gate will remain open, as opposed to moving everyone in one spot.