(WHAS11) - Trainer Bob Baffert's possible Derby trifecta is now down to one horse.
The Factor will not run on May 7. The California Speedball, who set the six furlong track record at Santa Anita, flipped his palate in the Arkansas Derby and then had throat surgery.
Co-owner George Bolton says that was too much to overcome in three weeks.
Bolton now seems resigned to try shorter distances for a horse, whose pedigree indicates that sprints might be best.
And J P's Gusto, another horse who got his start in California, has been taken out of consideration for the Derby. He was a grade I winner as a 2-year-old but hasn't won a race this year and seemed to be regressing in the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby.
That opens two places in the starting gate, and two horses with Louisville connections seem ready to take a shot. Churchill trainer Dale Romans now gets a chance with Shackleford, who lost the Florida Derby by a nose to Dialed In. Shackleford is a Forestry colt out of an Unbridled mare, and that pedigree would seem to fit the Derby picture.
Also ready to make the starting gate is Twinspired, who has three listed owners but enough syndicated partners to fill part of the grandstand. Twinspired took the Polytrack road to the Derby, running at Turfway and finishing second in the Bluegrass Stakes by a nose. He's a Harlan's Holiday with a Dosage Index of 1.15. The distance will be no problem, but can he make the transition from poly to dirt. His best two races have been at Keeneland.
That leaves two California contenders on the bubble for a ticket to the Derby. Silver Medallion, who just ran fourth in the Lexington Stakes, is number 21 and Anthony's Cross, who was fifth at Santa Anita is next.
After a work Tuesday morning, one of those possible defectors, Uncle Mo, still seems on track for the Derby. And if it rains on Derby Day, the contenders will already have plenty of work on a muddy track.