LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Just hours before the Kentucky Derby draw, connections of Un Ojo informed Churchill Downs officials that the gelding will not compete in this week's Kentucky Derby, opening up a spot for Hall of Fame trainer Wayne Lukas and Ethereal Road in this year's run for the roses.
Lukas, who has won the Derby four times, the last time in 1999 with Charismatic, will saddle his 50th Derby starter. He last brought a colt to the Derby in 2018 with Bravazo. Ethereal Road will be ridden by Luis Contreras.
"I'm happy to be in, especially for the owner, he wanted to run," Lukas said. "I've been there, I've done it before, I've had the experience so I'm happy to give him the experience. The horse has trained very well. Whether he's good enough, how far he'll take us, I don't know."
Un Ojo, Spanish for "an eye," was so named because he lost an eye in a paddock accident as a yearling. He was to have been the only gelding in this year's field. He suffered a bruised hoof in his last training run.
His trainer Ricky Courville, was set to make his first Derby start.
"He came out of that work Saturday with a bruised foot and it's just not the right thing to do to run him. He's still a little tender on it," Courville said. "We'll let the dust settle … He might go to the farm here in Kentucky; he might come back home (to Louisiana)."
The New York-bred punched his Kentucky Derby ticket with a long-shot win in the Rebel Stakes at 75-1. He ran back in the Arkansas Derby but had a miserable trip and cut himself when he hit the rail, requiring stitches, on his way to an eighth-place finish. His jockey, Ramon Vasquez, was looking for his his second Derby mount, having 13th in his prior trip aboard Mr. Z in 2013.
Ethereal Road has a record of 1-1-1 in seven starts, and was fourth in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in his last race, on April 16.
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