April 24, 2024

One Liner out of Derby consideration; Girvin gets Mike Smith

Pimlico Special contender One Liner is four-for-five lifetime (Coady Photography)

With nearly all of the preps in the books, now is the time for the Kentucky Derby (G1) news cycle to ramp up.

Monday witnessed several significant developments:

Southwest (G3) winner One Liner, who was expected to return to Oaklawn for Saturday’s Arkansas Derby (G1), is instead heading to the sidelines. Daily Racing Form’s David Grening broke the story on the Todd Pletcher trainee.

Elliott Walden of co-owner WinStar Farm told Thoroughbred Daily News:

“Basically we are going to bring him back to WinStar to run some diagnostics on him. If he’s not right, we’re not going to run him. He did not work well. I felt that he wasn’t ready to run an ‘A’ race.”

Walden was referring to One Liner’s five-furlong move in 1:01.80 at Palm Beach Downs on Saturday. The WinStar CEO added that One Liner may well be back for a summer campaign.

Unbeaten from three starts, One Liner made his two-turn debut in the Southwest. Stablemate Malagacy followed the same successful pattern when invading for the Rebel (G2) and remains on course for the Arkansas Derby.

U.A.E. Derby (G2) hero Thunder Snow appears to be Kentucky Derby-bound for Godolphin.

“Connections are finalizing plans to ship Thunder Snow for #KyDerby,” Churchill Downs’ Darren Rogers tweeted Saturday. “Stay tuned for details soon.”

Dubai Racing Channel’s Laura King reiterated the report via Twitter on Monday.

A late nominee to the U.S. Triple Crown, Thunder Snow was also just added to the June 3 Derby (G1) at Epsom. Might he attempt both? There’s certainly precedent. Bold Arrangement, runner-up to Ferdinand in the 1986 Kentucky Derby, was unplaced behind Shahrastani and Dancing Brave at Epsom. In 1992, Dr Devious finished seventh to Lil E Tee at Churchill Downs before storming to victory in the Epsom Derby.

The day’s other big news involved Derby riding assignments.

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., regular rider for both McCraken and Girvin, is keeping faith with McCraken, Daily Racing Form’s Byron King reported.

Although only third in Saturday’s Blue Grass (G2), the previously undefeated McCraken is proven over the Churchill strip, where he broke his maiden and conquered last fall’s Street Sense S. and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). The Ian Wilkes trainee returned with a track record-setting performance in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, but later sustained an ankle strain. The Blue Grass was his first start back, and McCraken is eligible to move forward for the first Saturday in May. He’s been among the top choices in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, closing as the 5-1 favorite in the final Pool 4.

That left the mount open on Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Girvin, but there wasn’t a vacancy for long. Trainer Joe Sharp told DRF, then announced on Twitter, that Hall of Famer Mike Smith would take over at the helm.

Girvin, who’s raced exclusively at Fair Grounds so far, is a perfect three-for-three on the dirt. After a useful second in the Keith Gee Memorial on turf, he burst onto the Derby scene with a victory in the Risen Star (G2), and backed it up last time in the Louisiana Derby.