Updated on 09/16/2011 7:08AM

Repent falls by the wayside

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On Saturday, Came Home (center) clinched a spot in the Kentucky Derby with a victory in the Santa Anita Derby, and War Emblem won the Illinois Derby. Repent will miss the Derby with an injury.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - As the May 4 Kentucky Derby grows closer, more pressure is put on horses to perform at a high level, and often their hopes get dashed. A number of top prospects for the Derby were knocked from contention last weekend, the most prominent of whom was Louisiana Derby winner Repent, who came out of his second-place finish in Saturday's Illinois Derby with a small chip in his left front ankle, trainer Ken McPeek said Monday.

"It's a sliver of a chip," McPeek said from Louisville. "In the short term, it will nag him. It needs to come out."

McPeek said Repent would have arthroscopic surgery next Monday. Dr. Larry Bramlage will perform the surgery at Lexington's Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic.

McPeek said he ordered X-rays on Monday morning after noting that Repent's left front ankle "felt warmer than his right.

"I didn't like the way his ankle looked," McPeek said. "I also X-rayed his left knee, to be safe, and there was nothing there. I X-rayed him after the Louisiana Derby, because I was frustrated that he was not changing leads. Your instincts as a trainer tell you that they're doing that for a reason. But there was nothing there."

Repent is owned by the Select Stable of Jerry and Feye Bach. The Bachs also own the filly Take Charge Lady, who was a dazzling winner of Saturday's Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, in which she got a Beyer Speed Figure of 109. Take Charge Lady never has faced colts, but is nominated to the Triple Crown. McPeek said it was "too early to discuss" whether Take Charge Lady would now be pointed for the Derby rather than the May 3 Kentucky Oaks. "I'd still be inclined to run in the Oaks," McPeek said.

McPeek also is the trainer of Derby favorite Harlan's Holiday, who is owned by Jack Wolf's Starlight Stable. Harlan's Holiday is scheduled to have his final Derby prep in Saturday's $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

In addition to Repent, the other Derby contenders who were removed from consideration include Mayakovsky, U S S Tinosa, and Danthebluegrassman, all of whom finished out of the money in Saturday's Santa Anita Derby; Fonz's, who finished third, behind Repent and the victorious War Emblem, in the Illinois Derby at Sportsman's Park; and Equality, who was upset as the odds-on favorite in Saturday's Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream.

Johannesburg suffered the first loss of his career in Sunday's seven-furlong Gladness Stakes at The Curragh, raising further doubt as to whether he would come to the 1 1/4-mile Derby, which would be his first race beyond 1 1/16 miles and around two turns. A more reasonable spot seems to be the English 2000 Guineas, at a mile at Newmarket, also on May 4. Johannesburg got a Timeform rating of 114 in his loss. That roughly translates to a Beyer Figure of 100.

Even Came Home, who won the Santa Anita Derby, did not emerge from the weekend unscathed. His trainer, Paco Gonzalez, said Came Home had a minor temperature on Monday morning, two days after his hard-fought victory. Came Home had a similar fever about two weeks after his victory in last month's San Rafael Stakes, and though he missed some training time, he was strong enough to perform courageously on Saturday.

"He has a little temperature," Gonzalez said from Santa Anita. "He usually is 100 2/5 [degrees]. Today he is 101. Hopefully it will go away in a day, like last time."

Gonzalez said Came Home likely would work once at Santa Anita next week before flying to Kentucky.

The high rate of attrition is not unexpected at this time of year. These 3-year-olds are still developing physically, the races they are running in are getting longer, and the quality of the runners they are facing is growing stronger. The combination can prove too big a hurdle for many Derby aspirants.

The focus now turns ever more toward Kentucky. On Saturday at Keeneland, only 75 miles from Churchill Downs, Harlan's Holiday and Booklet will meet for the fourth time this spring, in the Blue Grass. At New York's Aqueduct Race Track, such top Derby prospects as Blue Burner, Medaglia d'Oro, Saarland, and Sunday Break are scheduled to compete in the $750,000 Wood Memorial. And at Oaklawn Park, a large field - headed by Mr. Mellon and the Steve Asmussen-trained duo of Private Emblem and Windward Passage - is scheduled to run in the $500,000 Arkansas Derby. All three of those races are at 1 1/8 miles, a furlong shorter than the Kentucky Derby.

Booklet worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds on Sunday at Keeneland. The time equaled the best of the morning among 26 drills at the distance. John Ward Jr., the trainer of Booklet, on Monday morning at Keeneland said Booklet "was quick early, then relaxed the last part" in his workout.

Ward revealed that Booklet suffered a gash in his right front pastern when he was caught in his stall webbing "four or five days," after Booklet's fourth-place finish in the Florida Derby. "It was a pretty good gash, but we didn't have to put stitches in it," Ward said.

Straight Gin earned a start in the Blue Grass with a five-furlong work in 1:01.40 under exercise rider Heather Conrad Monday morning at Keeneland.

"I'm down to the last dot. Yogi says it's never over till it's over," said Straight Gin's trainer, Nick Zito, whose syntax often mirrors that of Yogi Berra.

Request for Parole, as expected, will pass the Blue Grass and head straight into the Kentucky Derby, trainer Steve Margolis said Monday.

Also heading straight to the Derby are the first three finishers from the Santa Anita Derby - Came Home, Easy Grades, and Lusty Latin. Came Home got a Beyer Speed Figure of 96 for his victory.

Mayakovsky, who ran fourth in the Santa Anita Derby after stumbling at the start, most likely will run in the one-mile Derby Trial on April 27 at Churchill Downs, then the Metropolitan Handicap on May 27 at Belmont Park, trainer Patrick Biancone said.

War Emblem, a runaway winner of the Illinois Derby, got a Beyer Figure of 112. His trainer, Bobby Springer, on Monday at Keeneland said he was "really undecided" whether War Emblem would run in the Derby. Because of his victory in the Illinois Derby, War Emblem is eligible for a $1 million bonus for winning that race and any Triple Crown race. The May 18 Preakness Stakes is a tempting target, Springer said.

"With the million-dollar bonus, I've got to try one of them," Springer said.

Marasca and Equality, the one-two finishers in the Aventura, both will pass the Derby, their trainers said. Marasca got a Beyer Speed Figure of 101.

Castle Gandolfo, an Aidan O'Brien-trained stablemate of Johannesburg, got a Timeform rating of 105+ for his victory in Saturday's Foster's International Trial Stakes at Lingfield. A plus sign from Timeform indicates the rating may, in fact, be higher. With the rough translation of Timeform ratings being 14 points higher than a Beyer Figure, that puts Castle Gandolfo at about 91 on the Beyer scale.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee and Mike Welsch