LOUISVILLE — It wasn't nearly as traumatic as what took place 24 hours earlier but, for the second straight morning, trainer Todd Pletcher began his daily news briefing by announcing the loss of another Kentucky Derby contender.
WinStar Farm's Rule, winner of the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes in February and third in the Florida Derby, was declared out of the Derby on Monday morning and will point for the Preakness instead.
Bill Casner, co-owner of WinStar Farm, said the son of Roman Ruler did not have any specific ailment but had not looked as sharp in his recent works as they would have liked.
"He's a sound horse, but I think he was telling us something in that work the other day (5 furlongs in 1:00 on Saturday)," Casner said. "He just came off the bridle a bit there at the end. I think maybe it's time to maybe freshen him a shade.
"You always want to listen to your horses, and ... I think he was telling us that he wasn't at the top of his game. Right now, (the Preakness) is what we're talking about."
In addition to Rule, Pletcher also trains Wood Memorial winner Eskendereya, who was scratched from the Derby on Sunday morning because of an injured left front leg. The four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer now has four contenders: the filly Devil May Care, Super Saver, Discreetly Mine, and Mission Impazible.
Pletcher is also considering running graded stakes winner Interactif, who worked 4 furlongs in :47.60 Monday, but he said a decision would not be made until Tuesday.
Rule's defection opens a spot in the Derby field for Wood Memorial runner-up Jackson Bend.
Noble's Promise cleared
The odds that Grade I winner Noble's Promise will be in the Kentucky Derby got a significant boost Monday morning when an endoscopic exam of the colt was clean following a work at Churchill Downs.
Noble's Promise had been troubled by a slight lung infection after his fifth-place finish in the Grade I Arkansas Derby. With jockey Willie Martinez riding, the colt covered 4 furlongs in :48.80 while accompanied by a stablemate.
"He was very forward and willing. This was just as good as you could ask for," Martinez said. "The other horse worked good but he was just no match today for Noble's Promise. The work could not have gone any better."
Added trainer Ken McPeek, "There is a better than average chance we'll be part of the Derby."
American Lion and Line of David also worked out Monday.
Illinois Derby winner American Lion breezed 5 furlongs in 1:02.60, and Arkansas Derby winner Line of David struggled through a 6-furlong move in 1:15.
"He just didn't seem to like the track all that much," said John Sadler, trainer of Line of David. "I'm disappointed. It won't change anything though."