04/18/2016 2:06PM

Baffert removes Cupid from Kentucky Derby trail

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Bob Baffert ruled out the Kentucky Derby for Cupid after the colt's 10th-place finish in the Arkansas Derby.

The scoreboard watching as to who’s in and who’s out for the Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs began in earnest on Monday and produced the first significant development when Cupid, who finished 10th as the favorite in the Arkansas Derby, was ruled out of the race by trainer Bob Baffert.

Baffert said Cupid emerged from the Arkansas Derby with an entrapped epiglottis and was to have surgery Monday at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky.

Cupid had earned 50 points when winning the Rebel Stakes in his prior start, which put him squarely in the top 20 on the points list compiled by Churchill Downs to determine the maximum 20-horse field for the Derby. His defection puts Mo Tom into the top 20, and now Fellowship is on the bubble, ranked 21st.

Cupid flew to Kentucky on Monday on the same plane with Creator, the Arkansas Derby winner, and Whitmore, who finished third in the Arkansas Derby. But while Creator and Whitmore went straight to Churchill Downs to begin preparation for the Derby, Cupid went to Rood and Riddle.

Baffert said Cupid would head to Churchill Downs later this week and be based there for the time being. Baffert is sending a number of horses to Churchill Downs later this week for upcoming races at Churchill Downs. Baffert said if Cupid recovers quickly from the surgery, he would be pointed to the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, at Pimlico on May 21.

Baffert said Mor Spirit, who is now his lone Derby prospect, will fly to Kentucky on Friday and head straight to Churchill Downs. He said Mor Spirit would not work at Santa Anita this week and would work next at Churchill Downs.

Baffert is a four-time winner of the Kentucky Derby and swept the Triple Crown a year ago with American Pharoah.

The Arkansas Derby was the last of the 34 races in which horses could earn points toward a berth in the Derby. Creator and Suddenbreakingnews, the one-two finishers in the race, earned enough points to vault into the top 20 and make the Derby field.

Dazzling Gem, who finished fourth, is now 24th on the list with 30 points. Immediately above him are Fellowship, Adventist, and Laoban, all of whom have 32 points. Mo Tom also has 32 points but is ranked above Fellowship, Adventist, and Laoban owing to the tiebreaker, earnings in unrestricted stakes races.

Also on Saturday was the Lexington Stakes, which Baffert won with Collected, who is well down the points list with 21 and is not a serious Derby prospect “unless the race falls apart,” Baffert said.

Creator got a Beyer Speed Figure of 96 in the Arkansas Derby. Collected got a 90.

At Churchill Downs on Monday, Gun Runner, the Louisiana Derby winner, worked five furlongs in 1:00, which tied for the fastest work of the morning at the distance. Gun Runner, a son of Candy Ride, is trained by Steve Asmussen, who also trains Creator, who is by Tapit.

“They’re two extremely talented individuals with great conformation and huge pedigrees,” Asmussen said on Saturday, minutes after the Arkansas Derby.

Also on Monday, Mohaymen, who suffered his first loss to Derby favorite Nyquist last time out in the Florida Derby, galloped after arriving on Sunday from Florida.

–additional reporting by Marcus Hersh and Nicole Russo