LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- King Guillermo, who earned his Kentucky Derby spot with a second-place finish to Nadal in the Arkansas Derby, will not make it to the starting gate after spiking a fever Wednesday afternoon.
His owner, former Major League All-Star Victor Martinez, and trainer, Juan Carlos Avila, made the difficult call Thursday afternoon after consulting with veterinarians.
“To race in a race like the Derby, we need him at 100%,” Avila said. “We aren’t going to be able to demonstrate how good he is like this. I think we are going to have plenty of time to show his quality. He’s going to be a great horse, and everybody knows we have to take care of the horse first. The next step is to try to get him ready for the Preakness and go from there.”
King Guillermo was one of only three thoroughbreds bought by Martinez when he got into the business last year, and he appeared to have struck gold right away.
“A .333 batting average,” he quipped after the post-position draw Wednesday.
But tough luck can come at any time in the horse racing business. Now, Martinez and Avila will point the colt – who is named after Martinez’s father – to the Preakness Stakes.
“The sad part is that Juan said yesterday was his best day here,” Martinez said. “When we left the track in the morning following training and came back in the afternoon for feed time, we discovered he had a fever. It’s just the sad part about this game.”
King Guillermo’s defection leaves the Derby field with 17 starters. The two inside gates and one outside gate of the new 20-hole Kentucky Derby starting gate will remain open. The post positions that were drawn Tuesday remain unchanged.”
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