Trainer Rey Hernandez said Friday morning Finnick the Fierce, the one-eyed gelding who finished ahead of Tiz the Law in a race last year, will scratch from Saturday’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
“I was not really happy how he trained this morning, and the state vet thinks he’s a little off,” Hernandez said. “We decided to scratch him and bring him home and see if there’s anything we’re not seeing. The main thing is playing it safe for the horse.”
Finnick the Fierce drew the No. 1 post position for the Derby and was 50-1 odds in the morning line. Martin Garcia was scheduled to be the jockey.
Related coverage: The story of Finnick the Fierce’s journey to the Derby
“This is horse racing; it’s something you have to prepare for,” Hernandez said. “You have really good days, and then you have days like this one. It just happens without expecting it. We’ll regroup and plan again.”
Arnaldo Monge, who co-owns the Finnick the Fierce with Hernandez, said the horse “carries himself a little funny” on his right front leg since his right eye was removed because of a congenital cataract.
“Ever since he arrived, the vets have been keeping an eye on the horse and I’m telling Rey, ‘Well, they’re concerned about this,’” Monge said. “And there might be a legitimate reason, but a regular vet doesn’t seem to think so. …
“We don’t want to go (Saturday) and we’re all excited and then he gets scratched at the post. Maybe we are missing something. I don’t know. But I think the plan is to do more diagnostics on him, and if everything is OK we’ll run another day.”
Monge said the Oct. 3 Preakness at Pimlico and the Nov. 6-7 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland could be in play if Finnick the Fierce is deemed healthy.
A son of Dialed In, Finnick the Fierce is 2-1-2 in nine career starts. In his most recent start, he finished seventh in the Grade 2 Blue Grass on July 11 at Keeneland. He finished second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last November. Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law was third in that race, the only defeat of his career.
Finnick the Fierce’s departure leaves a field of 16 for the Kentucky Derby. The last time only 16 horses ran in the Derby was 2003, when Funny Cide won. Funny Cide has the same trainer (Barclay Tagg) and owner (Sackatoga Stable) as Tiz the Law.
Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; [email protected]; Twitter: @KentuckyDerbyCJ. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/jasonf.