Pletcher plans to enter 'Devil' in Derby
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A day after announcing that Kentucky Derby favorite Eskendereya was out of the race with an injury, trainer Todd Pletcher said star filly Devil May Care was likely to run for the roses Saturday instead of contesting the fillies-only Kentucky Oaks on Friday.
"Right now I believe we're going to enter Devil May Care in the Derby," Pletcher said.
A final decision is expected Tuesday, the deadline for entry into the Oaks. Only an unforeseen development would keep the filly out of the Derby at this point.
Devil May Care cleared her last hurdle for the Derby on Monday morning with a smooth workout over a wet Churchill Downs track. Having jockey John Velazquez suddenly available -- he was to be the rider on Eskendereya -- helped solidify the decision.
The filly easily has the graded-stakes earnings to make the 20-horse Derby field, and owner John Greathouse said after the work he's in favor of a Derby run. In fact, he owns a future-book ticket on Devil May Care in the Derby at 250-1 odds.
The fortunes of the so-called "Todd Squad," Pletcher's impressive array of 3-year-old talent assembled at Churchill Downs, has fluctuated wildly the past couple of days. He had as many as seven possible Derby starters a week before the race, but that has changed.
On Sunday, Pletcher had the grim duty of reporting the injury to favorite Eskendereya's left front leg, which will keep the strong Derby favorite out of the race and probably the entire Triple Crown series. And in addition to indicating that Devil May Care is a Derby go, Pletcher also said that one of his likely Derby colts, Rule, is out of the race after lackluster training in recent days.
"We're going to take a pass," Pletcher said. "We'll see how he responds in a week or so," adding Rule will be considered for the Preakness on May 15.
Rule's defection opens the Derby door for Jackson Bend, who finished second to Eskendereya in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby.
Senior writer Pat Forde covers horse racing for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
THE TRIPLE CROWN
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• Desormeaux defends Derby stretch ride
• Eskendereya retired; Jess Jackson buys in
• Eskendereya cruises in the Wood Memorial
• Drosselmeyer's feet seem OK after work
• Belmont: First Dude could be one to catch