Updated on 09/17/2011 11:47AM

Then there were four

Benoit & Associates
Derby longshot Eye of the Tiger could inherit favoritism in Sunday's Affirmed Handicap.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - There were almost as many late defections from Sunday's $100,000 Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park as there are entrants.

Late in the week, there were six probables for the race, but only four were entered on Friday. Blazonry, the winner of the Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes on May 26, is reportedly ill, while Chief Planner, the winner of the Snow Chief Stakes on April 26, has developed a quarter crack, according to trainer Bob Baffert.

Chief Planner was expected to be favored in the Affirmed, a prep for the Swaps Stakes on July 13. On Friday, Baffert said he did not know how long Chief Planner would be out. "It's not a good one," he said of the quarter crack. "It's tender. We'll know more in a few days."

The absence of Blazonry and Chief Planner leaves the Grade 3 Affirmed with a field comprising Bullistic, Eye of the Tiger, Ministers Wild Cat, and Outta Here.

Bullistic is making his stakes debut in his fourth start.

Eye of the Tiger and Outta Here started in the Kentucky Derby, finishing fifth and seventh. Neither has raced since.

Outta Here was considered for the Belmont Stakes, but he stayed in California. Trainer Bill Currin considers the 1 1/16-mile Affirmed Handicap to be too short for Outta Here and sees the race as a prep for the Swaps over 1 1/8 miles.

Ministers Wild Cat was a candidate for the Kentucky Derby until he finished a troubled fifth in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 19. He was entered for the Laz Barrera Stakes but was scratched because of a bruised foot.

The incident cost him only a few days of training, according to John O'Donoghue, an assistant to trainer Neil Drysdale. "It just came at a bad time," O'Donoghue said.

Ministers Wild Cat may set the pace in the Affirmed. He won the Golden State Mile at Golden Gate Fields in February while racing close to the front and led throughout a seven-furlong maiden race at Santa Anita in January.

"He's been right there close and run well," O'Donoghue said.

Eye of the Tiger may inherit the role of favorite. Although he has yet to win a stakes, he ran well in the Kentucky Derby, finishing 4 3/4 lengths behind Funny Cide at 41-1.

Earlier this spring, Eye of the Tiger was third in the San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita and second in the Lexington Stakes.

His stakes experience may give him an edge in a surprisingly small field in the Affirmed.