05/03/2013 2:07PM

Kentucky Derby: Fear the Kitten's owner frustrated over exclusion from race

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Frank Irvin – the owner of Fear the Kitten, who was excluded from  Saturday’s Kentucky Derby after initially being an also-eligible entrant – expressed dismay Friday at circumstances that prevented his horse from gaining entry in the Derby, even following the scratch of Black Onyx from the race late Friday morning.

Irvin was most critical of Churchill Downs and its rule that a scratch in the body of the race has to be made by 9 a.m. the Friday before the Derby for an also-eligible to join the field. That scratch time differs from most races, in which also-eligibles can draw in on race day, but is a rule Churchill feels is necessary due to early betting on the Kentucky Derby, wagering that begins at 9 a.m. Friday.

If the scratch time had been later Friday, such as noon, Fear the Kitten could have gained entry into the field.

“This is not an everyday race,” Irvin said. “This was a lifetime opportunity that may not come back.”

Irvin also expressed frustration that Black Onyx was not scratched by the 9 a.m. scratch time.

Black Onyx’s trainer, Kelly Breen, said at a news conference that X-rays showing a chip in the colt’s left ankle did not come back until after scratch time, although he acknowledged that his horse did show swelling before early-morning training, and some lameness thereafter, before X-rays were taken. Breen said he wanted to wait for the X-ray results to make a decision on Black Onyx’s participation.

Fear the Kitten, who briefly looked like he would make the field Monday, was leapfrogged Tuesday by Giant Finish when that horse suddenly was announced as a surprise entrant. Fear the Kitten accumulated the fewest Kentucky Derby points in the preps leading up to the race, which landed him on the also-eligible list.

“I feel like a yo-yo,” Irvin said. “It’s no fun. I can’t recommend it.”