04/08/2014 12:24PM

Kentucky Derby: Toast of New York will not travel to Churchill Downs

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Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club
United Arab Emirates Derby winner Toast of New York will not travel to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, his trainer, Jamie Osborne, said Tuesday.

Trainer Jamie Osborne on Tuesday made official what he and owner Michael Buckley had insinuated for the past week: Toast of New York, the winner of the United Arab Emirates Derby, will not travel to the United States for the May 3 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Toast of New York’s withdrawal will be welcome news for the connections of horses currently on the bubble on the points list for a berth in the Derby, which has a maximum field of 20. Toast of New York earned 100 Derby qualifying points for his UAE Derby victory, which guaranteed him a spot in the Derby field under the system used by Churchill Downs. By not coming, that will open a slot for a horse who would have been excluded.

“He came out of the UAE Derby well, but we just don’t feel that at this stage of his life, it would be fair to put him on a plane and go to another continent to run over a surface he’s never been on,” Osborne said by telephone Tuesday from Great Britain. “It’s a difficult question to ask of him.”

Toast of New York has never raced on dirt. All of his races have been on turf or synthetic, and all of his victories have been on synthetic.

“We think we’re doing the right thing for the horse,” Osborne said. “It’s the timing – within five weeks’ time having him on three different continents.”

Osborne said Toast of New York would be pointed to the June 7 Epsom Derby. He said he would strongly consider bringing Toast of New York to the United States later this year, mentioning the Grade 1, $500,000 Secretariat Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile grass race Aug. 16 at Arlington Park, as a possible target.

“That could be ideal for him,” Osborne said.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

There will be plenty of scoreboard watching this weekend because the Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes are worth 170 points each – with 100 for first and 40 for second – and their results could have a significant impact on who’s in and who’s out with three weeks to go until the Kentucky Derby.

The top two finishers in the Blue Grass Stakes will leap into the top 15 on the points list and push down anyone below them. The only horse in the Arkansas Derby already high on the points list is Tapiture, who has 42. Those on the bubble need him to do well. Hypothetically, if he runs third behind Bayern and Commissioner, that will knock the bubble horses back more, since Bayern (currently zero points) and Commissioner (10 points) would leapfrog past them.

Ring Weekend, who earned 50 points for his Tampa Bay Derby win but was a distant second in the Calder Derby last Saturday, is returning to trainer Graham Motion’s base in Fair Hill, Md., where Motion said he’ll “see how he does in the next week or so” before a decision is made on whether to run in the Derby.