If this is starting to sound familiar, that’s because it is.
Thursday night brought the third change of the day to the 20-horse field for Saturday’s 149th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
First, Practical Move was scratched in the early afternoon due to an elevated temperature. Then, Lord Miles was scratched from the race following the suspension of his trainer, Saffie Joseph Jr., after the mysterious deaths of two of Joseph’s horses at Churchill Downs.
The final change came late Thursday night, when Continuar was scratched.
Continuar — the horse that received an invitation to the Kentucky Debry via the Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying route — will be scratched by trainer Yoshito Yahagi because of fitness concerns, according to a Churchill Downs news release.
“After evaluating the colt upon my arrival, I feel that he has not been able to reach the peak fitness required to take on a race as tough as the Kentucky Derby,” Yahagi said in the release. “Considering the future of the horse and the fact that we cannot show the horse’s true ability in his current state, we have decided to scratch Continuar from the Kentucky Derby.”
The removal of Continuar from the Derby field means that King Russell, the final horse on the also-eligible list, will draw into the race.
Previously on Thursday, Cyclone Mischief replaced Practical Move in the field and Mandarin Hero replaced Lord Miles.
After a brief period where it looked like three horses with Japanese connections would be in the Kentucky Derby, that number has returned to two: Derma Sotogake and Mandarin Hero.
No horse with Japanese connections has ever finished in the money in the Kentucky Derby.
The scratch time for Kentucky Derby 149 is 9 a.m. Friday, but no more horses are on the also-eligible list to move into the field.
Last week, expected Kentucky Derby contender Wild On Ice was euthanized after suffering a leg injury during training at Churchill Downs.
In 2020, three horses also scratched out of the Kentucky Derby in the week leading up to the race.
If a horse opts out of the 2023 Kentucky Derby from now until post time at 6:57 p.m. Saturday, the field will be reduced for the race.
Meet the newest Derby horse, King Russell
Trained by Ron Moquett and set to be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, King Russell was 24th on the Kentucky Derby qualifying points leaderboard with 40 points.
This haul was earned exclusively by finishing second to Angel of Empire in the Arkansas Derby in early April.
Moquett has never trained a Kentucky Derby winner before, and his best Derby showing as a trainer was 15th with Far Right in 2015.
Former Kentucky governor Brereton C. Jones is the breeder of King Russell, who holds a lifetime record of 1-3-0 in six career starts.
King Russell will leave from post position No. 20 on Saturday night in the Derby.
The scratch of Continuar means Cyclone Mischief (30-1 morning-line odds) will now break from post No. 18 and Mandarin Hero (20-1) will break from post No. 19.
King Russell was given 50-1 morning-line odds on Monday during the post-position draw.
This is tied with Reincarnate (post No. 7), Jace’s Road (post No. 11), Sun Thunder (post No. 12) and Raise Cain (post No. 15) for the longest morning-line odds in the field.
When: 6:57 p.m. Saturday
Where: Churchill Downs
TV: NBC and Peacock
Purse: $3 million (Grade 1)
Distance: 1 1/4 miles
For: 3-year-old Thoroughbreds
Kentucky Derby field, with odds:
1. Hit Show (30-1)
2. Verifying (15-1)
3. Two Phil’s (12-1)
4. Confidence Game (20-1)
5. Tapit Trice (5-1)
6. Kingsbarns (12-1)
7. Reincarnate (50-1)
8. Mage (15-1)
9. Skinner (SCRATCHED)
10. Practical Move (SCRATCHED)
11. Disarm (30-1)
12. Jace’s Road (50-1)
13. Sun Thunder (50-1)
14. Angel of Empire (8-1)
15. Forte (SCRATCHED)
16. Raise Cain (50-1)
17. Derma Sotogake (10-1)
18. Rocket Can (30-1)
19. Lord Miles (SCRATCHED)
20. Continuar (SCRATCHED)
21. Cyclone Mischief (30-1)
22. Mandarin Hero (20-1)
23. King Russell (50-1)