Churchill Downs announced Friday morning that Haikal has been scratched from Saturday’s Kentucky Derby because of an abscess on his left hoof. The Shadwell Stable runner is the second horse to drop out of the race after the handlers of morning-line favorite Omaha Beach ruled him out Wednesday because of a respiratory issue.
Haikal had drawn the No. 11 post position and was a 30-1 long shot. Because there are no horses eligible to replace him in the race, the runners starting from posts 1-10 will shift out a spot, and the field of 19 will break from the gate in posts 2-20.
The injury is not considered to be serious, and the third-place finisher at the Wood Memorial should be back soon. But the abscess was bad enough to keep Haikal away from training on Thursday, and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin pulled the plug Friday after epsom-salt soakings did not provide quick enough relief.
“It’s a quick recovery, but it might not be quick enough because we have to make a decision by tomorrow morning,” McLaughlin said Thursday, per Blood-Horse. “He has to train for us to be comfortable with him and if he can’t train because he’s still sore in the foot, then he’ll be out.”
While the program numbers of the remaining horses will not change, the gate shift should help some of the runners who will break from the inside get some early breathing room, particularly No. 1 War of Will.