Black Onyx’s late scratch leaves 19 to vie for roses

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Long shot Black Onyx is a late scratch for the Kentucky Derby, leaving 19 horses to vie for the roses.

The scratch occurred Friday after early wagering for the race was opened, so Black Onyx’s No. 1 post position will be left empty on Saturday.

The remaining horses will stay in their original starting gate positions.

The scratch came too late for Fear the Kitten to get into the Derby. The colt was on the list of also eligibles as the 21st qualifier in the point standings which determine the field.

Trainer Kelly Breen gave no immediate explanation for Black Onyx’s scratch.

It leaves jockey Joe Bravo without a Derby mount.

The 3-year-old colt is 2 for 2 since Breen took over the training last winter. Black Onyx qualified for the Derby by winning the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. He was 50-1 on the morning line.

Vyjack placed in Gomez’s hands

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Trainer Rudy Rodriguez placed his trust in jockey Garrett Gomez after Vyjack landed post No. 20, the far outside spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby.

Some trainers would map out elaborate schemes to compensate for the poor draw. Rodriguez, a former jockey and Vyjack’s morning exercise rider, knows the best-laid plans are scrambled the moment the gate springs open on Saturday.

Rodriguez will put the race in the hands of Gomez, the nation’s leading rider from 2006-08. Gomez is winless in nine Derbys.

“He’s a big boy, he’s been in the big races. It’s up to him,” Rodriguez said. “The Derby is so hard, everything has to go perfect. When you break from the gate, it’s a different game.”

Rodriguez was aboard Thursday morning for Vyjack’s final pre-Derby workout, three furlongs in a moderate 37 seconds.

“He went the way I expected him to go,” Rodriguez said. “It was easy, comfortable. It was what I was looking for. We just opened his lungs a little bit.”

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