The field for the Kentucky Derby is 16 after the Phoenix Fears scratched on Friday.
One-eyed gallbladder may have a foot problem. He is losing his right eye due to congenital cataracts.
Saturday’s derby will have the lowest start since 2003, when Funny Seed beat 15 opponents. Former Major League All-Star Victor Martinez’s ownership of King Guillermo has been cut short by a fever.
The Phoenix Fears pulled the No. 1 post position and were listed at 50-1 on the morning line. His absence means Max Player will break from the inside position. According to Churchill Downs officials, the field will be filled with 2 to 17 vacancies, with 1, 18, 19 and 20 vacancies at the new starting gate.
“Because he’s blind in the right eye, he presents himself with a little bit of humor and we always knew,” said owner Arnoldo Moge. “But since he came, Watts has been keeping an eye on the horse.”
Monge said trainer Ray Hernandez, who rides to Phoenix the Fears for a morning workout, told him he had no problems. But Monge said he chose to deviate from the path of caution and scratch the chestnut gilding.
“I know horse racing is being investigated all the time so I don’t think there’s any attempt to risk that publicity,” he said.
Gelding will be further investigated. Monge said that if he checks out, Phoenix The Fears could consider a precaution on October 3.
“It’s a hooliganism, but we’ll come back,” he said.
Phoenix Fears finished seventh in the Bliss Grass Stacks in July, its latest start.