Continuar third Kentucky Derby 2023 scratch; King Russell moves into Churchill Downs field

 Churchill Downs announced Thursday evening that Continuar will be scratched from Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

“After evaluating the colt upon my arrival, I feel that he has not been able to reach the peak fitness required to take on a race as tough as the Kentucky Derby,” trainer Yoshito Yahagi said in a news release. “Considering the future of the horse and the fact that we cannot show the horse’s true ability in his current state, we have decided to scratch Continuar from the Kentucky Derby.

“I am very sorry that I cannot participate in the world’s No. 1 horse racing festival. However, I sincerely hope to return to the Derby in the future. I want to thank everyone who has supported Continuar and Yahagi Stable on this journey.”

Assistant trainer Takahide Ando worked Continuar Wednesday April 25, 2023 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

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Continuar is the third Kentucky Derby hopeful to scratch Thursday, and his defection will allow the third and final member of the also-eligible list — King Russell — to enter the race.

Santa Anita Derby winner Practical Move was scratched Thursday morning with a fever, and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Board of Stewards announced Thursday afternoon Wood Memorial winner Lord Miles was scratched

The latter came after the deaths of two horses earlier in the week trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., also the trainer of Lord Miles. Churchill Downs announced an indefinite suspension of Joseph because of the “unexplained sudden deaths.”

Continuar was set to enter the Kentucky Derby off a third-place finish in the Group 2 UAE Derby on March 25 at Meydan. He was one of three Japan-bred horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, joining Derma Sotogake and Mandarin Hero.

King Russell will enter the Kentucky Derby off a runner-up finish to Angel of Empire in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 1 at Oaklawn Park. The son of Creative Cause is trained by Ron Moquett. Jockey Rafael Bejarano is scheduled to ride King Russell.

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