The colt was to have been ridden Saturday by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
“Bad news travels fast,” Baffert said outside his barn, where onlookers gathered as word spread around Churchill Downs. “The horse is OK. He’s just not 100 percent and it’s too close to the race, so I pulled the plug.”
Baffert first noticed something wasn’t quite right on Wednesday, when Hoppertunity took a few steps. The inside quarter of his left foot was sore, so part of his shoe was cut off. As the colt walked to warm up, he didn’t appear bothered. But Baffert decided to scratch him anyway.
Hoppertunity will have a full scan Friday to eliminate any other possible problems than a sore foot, which will be soaked.
In a bit of gallows humor, Baffert joked, “We missed a Hoppertunity.”
He said the colt could return in time for the Preakness on May 17.
Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia revised the Derby morning line odds, although California Chrome remained the favorite at 5-2.
Wicked Strong, the colt named for the victims of last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, replaced Hoppertunity as the early second choice at 6-1.
Arkansas Derby winner Danza and Intense Holiday were installed as the co-third choices at 8-1. Tapiture was made the fifth choice at 12-1.
The odds for Candy Boy were lowered to 15-1 from 20-1. Louisiana Derby winner Vicar’s In Trouble, to be ridden by Rosie Napravnik, dropped to 20-1 from 30-1.
Smith will still be busy on Derby day, riding in seven of the 13 races on the card.
“I could still have a pretty good day,” he said. “I’d rather lose it this way than something happen on the track.”
The scratch moved also-eligible horse Pablo Del Monte into the maximum 20-horse field. However, the 50-1 shot would have to start from the No. 20 post position. It wasn’t immediately known if Pablo Del Monte’s owners want to start under that condition.
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