04/28/2005 11:00PM

'John B' injured and out

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Roger Stein was getting Derby fever. Unfortunately, an ultrasound test discovered a cure for it.

General John B, the Santa Anita Derby runner-up who would have been Stein's first starter in the Kentucky Derby, developed filling in his left knee just outside the tendon and has been removed from consideration for the 131st Run for the Roses next Saturday.

"It's not a big deal, but on ultrasound you can definitely see it," Stein said Friday morning from Southern California. "The thing is, this horse has never taken an unsound step in his life. I can't run him in good conscience knowing he's got to run a mile and a quarter against the best horses around."

The defection allows Going Wild to get into the field and, barring any unforeseen additions, gives owner B. Wayne Hughes the option of running either Don't Get Mad or Greeley's Galaxy in the race. The Derby field is limited to 20 runners, and Greeley's Galaxy - who would have to be supplemented for $200,000 because he is not nominated to the Triple Crown - can only get in if the field is 20 or fewer.

Don't Get Mad, winless in three starts this year, was scheduled to run in Saturday's Derby Trial on the opening-day Churchill card. Hughes said Friday he would love to run both horses in the Derby, but if he has to choose, he would most likely run Greeley's Galaxy, winner of three consecutive races including the Illinois Derby.

Hughes said Don't Get Mad "would have to run a big race for me not to go with Greeley's Galaxy." Warren Stute, 83, trains Greeley's Galaxy. Stute has not run a horse in the Kentucky Derby since Field Master finished 13th in 1967.

"Warren Stute's 83 years old and he hasn't been to the Derby in 60 years - we can't afford to wait another 60," Hughes said with some exaggeration, while sitting in Wagner's Pharmacy, having breakfast with Stute, trainers Ron Ellis and Al Stall, and others. "We want to run if we can. I know I'd really like to have both go."

Stein was hoping to make his Derby debut with General John B, who held second at 64-1 in the Santa Anita Derby. On Tuesday, General John B worked six furlongs in 1:13 at Santa Anita. After a day off Wednesday, General John B jogged on Thursday, and Stein noticed something amiss. A disappointed Stein said he would need two or three weeks before determining long-range plans for General John B.

"I didn't know what Derby fever was, but I was letting myself get it the last week and I was getting caught up in all of this," Stein said. "I even went out and bought a suit. I haven't worn a suit since I was 13 years old.

"If there's a bright spot, it's that Warren Stute is going to get a shot to win the Derby for Mr. Hughes," Stein added.

If Greeley's Galaxy were to win, Stute would become the oldest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby, supplanting Charlie Whittingham, who at age 76 won the 1989 Derby with Sunday Silence.

Stute admitted on Friday morning that he was starting to get a case of Derby fever himself.

"All my life I never cared about coming to the Kentucky Derby," Stute said. "Since I'm here, it's exciting. I finally realized it's the best race in the world to win."

On Thursday, Greeley's Galaxy worked one mile in 1:40.60 over the main track. On Friday, Stute said the horse came out of the work in good order.

"He tried to bite me several times," Stute said.

In other Derby news:

* Trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed that Patrick Valenzuela will ride Lexington Stakes winner Coin Silver in the Kentucky Derby. Valenzuela won the 1989 Derby aboard Sunday Silence, but has not ridden the race since 1993.

Javier Castellano rode Coin Silver to victory in the Lexington, but is committed to ride probable favorite Bellamy Road.

"[Owner] John Fort and I talked about, it and we felt Pat Valenzuela might be one of the guys that might be able to put together the right kind of ride on a horse like him," Pletcher said.

* Trainer Patrick Biancone said he will ship Spanish Chestnut from Keeneland to Churchill on Monday morning for a workout, and provided the colt works well, he will run in the Derby.