Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky Derby notes: Battalion Runner, Malagacy out; Girvin in

Wood Memorial runner-up Battalion Runner headed to the track earlier this week at Churchill Downs. Trainer Todd Pletcher announced Saturday that Battalion Runner will not run in the Kentucky Derby on May 6.
Wood Memorial runner-up Battalion Runner headed to the track earlier this week at Churchill Downs. Trainer Todd Pletcher announced Saturday that Battalion Runner will not run in the Kentucky Derby on May 6. Lexington Herald-Leader

A week away from the Kentucky Derby, some notes:

▪ Trainer Todd Pletcher announced Saturday that Battalion Runner and Malagacy will both skip the Derby on May 6 and point to the Preakness on May 20.

Battalion Runner, who finished second in the Wood Memorial to Irish War Cry, turned in a less-than-stellar work Friday morning at Churchill Downs. Pletcher said then that he thought Battalion Runner was having trouble handling the track.

Malagacy, who ran fifth in the Arkansas Derby, was always considered doubtful for the Derby. The son of 2011 Preakness winner Shackleford had won his three previous starts before going to Oaklawn.

▪ Those two defections mean that Lookin at Lee and Sonneteer now have spots in the 20-horse field. Lookin at Lee, trained by Steve Asmussen, finished third in the Arkansas Derby. Sonneteer, trained by Keith Desormeaux, was fourth in the Arkansas Derby.

▪ Louisiana Derby winner Girvin, who has been battling a quarter crack, finally worked at Keenelend on Saturday. The Derby points leader worked five-eighths of a mile in 59.3. Trainer Joe Sharp indicated that he is planning on entering Girvin in the Derby.

“He worked extremely well and cooled out great,” Sharp said, audibly relieved. “Every day the foot has been better and better, but typically this kind of issue does improve like that. It’s definitely been a huge team effort.”

▪ Girvin was scheduled to work last Monday, but instead he jogged on the Keeneland track. Since then, he has spent time in the pool at the Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation center to remain fit.

Girvin will ship to Churchill Downs on Wednesday.

▪ Churchill Downs reports that UAE Derby winner Thunder Snow will enter the Kentucky Derby on Wednesday. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Goldophin Racing, Thunder Snow is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Sunday.

▪ Gothan winner J Boys Echo worked five furlongs in 1:01 on Saturday at Churchill Downs for trainer Dale Romans. J Boys Echo was fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes.

“That’s what we wanted,” Romans said of the work. “The gallop-out was strong. He did that by himself. You couldn’t ask for much better.”

▪ Sonneteer, winless in 10 starts, would be the first maiden to win the Kentucky Derby since Brokers Tip in 1933. Buchanan in 1884 and Sir Barton in 1919 are the only two other maidens to win the Derby.

▪ If Always Dreaming, Patch and Tapwrit make it to the starting gate on Saturday, Pletcher will tie D. Wayne Lukas for most career entries with 48. Pletcher currently has 45. Lukas has won the Derby four times. Pletcher has won it once. Lukas doesn't have a horse in this year’s field.

▪ Pletcher said Always Dreaming, Patch and Tapwrit came out of their Friday works in good shape, according to Churchill Downs.

“I’m pleased with how they came out of their works yesterday,” Pletcher said. “Always Dreaming (who had worked in a bullet :59.60 under his rider John Velazquez) especially so. He demolished his breakfast after that work, then ate up again last night. You love to see that when you put a good work into them.

“I liked the way he galloped this morning, too. He was more relaxed. We took some of the vinegar out of him with that work, which is what we wanted to do. I don’t have any problems with a good, stiff work eight days out from the race. It’s what he needed.”

▪ Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley worked seven furlongs in 1:26.20 at Santa Anita on Saturday.

“It was a good work for (Gormley); just what we wanted to get him ready for the race,” said trainer John Shirreffs.

▪ Santa Anita Derby runner-up Battle of Midway arrived at Churchill Downs on Saturday. The colt worked Friday at Santa Anita, going six furlongs in 1:13.40.

▪ McCraken, third in the Blue Grass, will work Sunday at Churchill for trainer Ian Wilkes. Jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. is scheduled to be aboard.

▪ Wood Memorial winner Irish War Cry is scheduled to work Sunday at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.

▪ Spiral Stakes winner Fast and Accurate will van from the Trackside Training Facility and work Sunday at Churchill Downs for trainer Mike Maker.

▪ Trainer Steve Asmussen said he will work Sunland Derby winner Hence and Untrapped, sixth in the Arkansas Derby, on Monday.

What the Kentucky Derby field looks like







Joe Sharp

Mike Smith


Classic Empire

Mark Casse

Julien Leparoux



John Shirreffs

Victor Espinosa



Doug O'Neill

Mario Guttierez


Irish War Cry

Graham Motion

Rajiv Maragh


Thunder Snow

Saeed bin Suroor

Christophe Soumillon


Always Dreaming

Todd Pletcher

John Velazquez



Antonio Sano

Javier Castellano


Practical Joke

Chad Brown

Joel Rosario


J Boys Echo

Dale Romans

Luis Saez


State of Honor

Mark Casse

Jose Lezcano



Todd Pletcher

Jose Ortiz



Steve Asmussen

Florent Geroux


Fast and Accurate

Mike Maker




Ian Wilkes

Brian Hernandez


Battle of Midway

Jerry Hollendorfer

Flavian Prat



Todd Pletcher




Steve Asmussen

Ricardo Santana, Jr.


Lookin at Lee

Steve Asmussen

Corey Lanerie



Keith Desormeaux

Kent Desormeaux