05/03/2013 3:07PM

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.”

R. Carlos Nanez More than 1 year ago
I can see the Mr. Irvin been upset, but he should not blame Churchill Downs. They just fallow the rules, it says, scratch time 9 a.m. The one to blame is the trainer for dragging his feet, as soon he find out his horse has a swelling in one ankle automatically he should call the racing office an put a scratch on his horse, every trainer in that race knows that is a also eligible waiting to get a chance to participate in a race of a life time for a owner or trainer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Frank Irvin, I have the solution for you on this problem... Get a better horse!! This horse had no business running in the Derby anyway.
Lourdes Franco More than 1 year ago
the betting reason is really stupid. the money is going to be bet on the derby no matter how many hours there are to bet on it. Since the KD is the biggest race of the year also eligible horse should be entered if there is a scratch up until the morning of the race. the owner of Fear the Kitten got screwed even though the horse probably would not have done better than 14th.
figg94 More than 1 year ago
Why couldn't CD take advance wagering on 21 entrants on Friday and then apply normal scratch rules on Saturday? Is this a software issue?
Rubino More than 1 year ago
I reall think that rule should be reviewed, totally not fair!
Bryan Langlois More than 1 year ago
Ive always been in favor of dropping field size down to 16, but that aside, I wonder how much money is wagered on the Derby in the time frame from say 9AM till noon the day before? Probably not much...but then again for CDI all that matters is the almighty $...
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
I don't blame Irvin for his feeling like a yo-yo. It's got to be frustrating for all the connections. I also find it unfair with a mere 2 hr diff. On another note, if BO looked like he had a problem, why wait for an X-ray? Hope BO is ok.
Erin Meany More than 1 year ago
He has a non displaced bone chip, what this means is one of his ankle bones has a chip, but it has not broken off the main bone
jeffdomingues More than 1 year ago
Fear the Kitten should be in the race based on his name alone.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Definitely unfair. It's another issue Churchill Downs Corp. will have to quietly tweak at the end of the year, along with the Points System tweaks regarding reinstating the Illinois Derby as a Kentucky Derby prep race & improving filly inclusion through a fairness-based change to the Points System Rules in the Kentucky Derby, for next year's & beyond KY Derby race. The Points System works, just needs to be improved some more to ensure fairness in the future. My condolences to Fear the Kitten and his connections. The owner is right - the Kentucky Derby is a once in a lifetime chance that no owner or trainer ever wants to miss out in participating. It's an honor just to be able to say your horse ran in the Kentucky Derby. Everyone wants a chance to grab the brass ring in what is considered by most people in the world as the most prestigious race run in the USA.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
As always, Joy, nicely put.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's bad, it's unfortunate, and the rules need tweaking. But let's face it: Fear The Kitten was 90-1 or higher. A fairer point system would have excluded him before the dream began.