04/02/2004 1:00AM

Eurosilver out of Derby


Eurosilver was declared out of the May 1 Kentucky Derby after trainer Nick Zito said Friday that a lingering illness has become too much to overcome.

"The horse has just missed too much time," Zito said at Keeneland. "It's sad, but what are you going to do? You can't just work him a time or two and then put him in the Derby. That's not right."

Since Eurosilver won the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last fall by 5 1/4 lengths for Buckram Oak Farm, the colt had been a leading contender for the 130th Derby. After winning his 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream Park in February, then finishing a strong second in the March 13 Swale Stakes, the colt was shipped to Keeneland last month to begin preparing for what would have been his final Derby prep, the April 10 Blue Grass Stakes.

But Eurosilver contracted what Zito has described as a glandular infection, and the colt has not trained since March 26. Finally, Zito conferred this week with Mahmoud Fustok, who owns Buckram Oak, and they decided to declare the colt from the Derby.

Zito said Eurosilver will remain at Keeneland and return to training "as soon as the horse tells us he's okay. I'm not ruling him out of any races, only the Derby".

Zito notified Churchill Downs officials Friday morning that Eurosilver was out, after which wagering was immediately suspended on Eurosilver in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. At the time, Eurosilver was 25-1 after having attracted $834 on Thursday, the first day of wagering. There are no refunds.

As of 5:10 p.m. Eastern Friday, the mutuel field, or the "all others" option, was the 7-1 favorite in the Derby futures, followed by Smarty Jones (9-1), Wimbledon (10-1), and The Cliff's Edge (12-1). The handle was $47,035.

At the same time, Halfbridled, who was scratched from Saturday's Ashland, was the 6-1 favorite in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Oaks futures over Madcap Escapade (7-1) and the field (7-1). The handle was $6,517.