04/28/2013 12:39PM

Kentucky Derby: Baffert unlikely to have a starter

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Barbara D. Livingston
Code West (right), working in company with the filly Midnight Lucky on Sunday, is probably headed to the Peter Pan and then the Belmont Stakes.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When it comes to getting horses to this year’s Kentucky Derby next Saturday, it has been the tale of two trainers, the best of times for Todd Pletcher, who it looks will have five in the race, and the worst of times for Bob Baffert, who all but ruled out both Code West and Govenor Charlie on Sunday morning.

The absence of Govenor Charlie is no surprise, since his training setbacks have been well-chronicled for more than a week now. Code West was considered more likely for the race than Govenor Charlie, but still a long ways from certain, and after Code West worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds on Sunday morning at Churchill Downs in company with the filly Midnight Lucky, Baffert sounded as if he would not run Code West, either.

[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders with odds and video]

Assuming both do not run in the 139th Derby, this will mark the first time Baffert, a three-time winner of the Derby, has not had Derby runners since consecutive years, 2007-08.

“You want to get your clients there, but at the same time you’ve got to be realistic,” said Baffert, who trains Code West for Gary and Mary West. “Mr. West doesn’t want to compete unless he can win the race. He doesn’t need to run just to run.”

Baffert said Code West most likely would run in the Peter Pan Stakes on May 11 at Belmont Park as a prep for the June 8 Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown, and a race Baffert has long mentioned as the major goal for Code West.

“The Belmont, that’s the target for him,” Baffert said.

Govenor Charlie is scheduled to work on Monday, but it looks like that will be a prep toward the May 18 Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

“You can’t have any hiccups, and he had a hiccup,” Baffert said of Govenor Charlie, who has not worked since April 11 owing to a foot bruise that briefly interrupted his training. “We’re a little tight for time. I don’t want to press him.”

Baffert stopped short of absolutely declaring both from the Derby, but that seems a matter of formality.

Govenor Charlie is currently 11th on the points list instituted this year by Churchill Downs to determine the Derby field should more than the maximum 20 enter the race on Wednesday. Code West is currently 21st, behind Winning Cause, who is also scheduled to work on Monday, but is highly unlikely to run in the race “unless he knocks my socks off,” trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning.

Pletcher also said Forty Tales, who won the Derby Trial on Saturday night, would not run.

Assuming all that holds, Tiz a Minister and Golden Soul would move up to 19th and 20th on the points list. Tiz a Minister ran third in the Snow Chief Stakes on Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park, and is still possible for the Derby. There is a plane leaving California on Tuesday should his connections decide to run.

Golden Soul’s connections are eager to run, so he’s certain for the Derby if the points fall his way, which it appears they will.

If there are less than 20 entered in the Derby, points do not matter. In that case, hypothetically, a filly with zero points could try and get in. The most intriguing, obviously, would be Dreaming of Julia, based on her runaway Gulfstream Park Oaks win on the Florida Derby card, but Pletcher on Sunday once again reiterated that she was heading to the Kentucky Oaks on Friday.