Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will not participate in the Kentucky Derby for the first time in five years. The three- time winner of the Run for the Roses told Churchill Downs that the owners of Code West and Govenor Charlie have decided not to enter their colts in the 139th edition of the Triple Crown race.
Baffert, who won the race in 1997, 1998 and 2002, will be holding out from the event Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie and Code West.
Governor Charlie, owned by Mike Pegram, was going to have a Monday workout at Churchill but that was canceled.
"I'm going to wait. I sat down with Mike and we said let's not push it and get him right," Baffert said. "There are other races. It's tough to miss it, but if you don't think you can run 1-2-3, I just don't want to run. I know there have been some longshots (that have been winners), but I didn't feel it. You have to feel it. I didn't feel that we were going to be competitive. That's why we passed on it."
Code West is owned by Gary and Mary West. The colt had a workout Sunday but will be pointed to future races, probably the Belmont Stakes.
"Gary West is a realistic kind of guy," Baffert said. "He wants to be in the right spots. His horses are nice horses, but they are slowly coming around. They're going to get better for the summer and he didn't want to waste a run."
Baffert won his first Kentucky Derby with Silver Charm and repeated the next year with Real Quiet. In 2002 War Emblem set the pace and won the 1 1/4-mile classic.
Also bypassing the race will be Lexington Stakes winner Winning Cause from the Todd Pletcher stable.
"I spoke with the owners and we decided the best way to go for him would be to sit back and give other races consideration," the trainer said. "If we ran him Saturday, that would be his third race in a month, and we felt that that would be too much. We don't know yet where he'll run next but there are several races under consideration, including the Preakness, the Peter Pan and even the Marine at Woodbine, because that's on the Polytrack."
With the withdrawals from the Derby, trainer Dallas Stewart will start Golden Soul for owner Charles Fipke who also owns Blue Grass Stakes winner Java's War, trained by Ken McPeek.
"I'm very happy," Stewart said. "I'm so happy for the horse to get the opportunity. I'm happy for Mr. Fipke. He's going to have two horses in there. I really think (Golden Soul) is going to represent us well."
As of Monday, the field for the Kentucky Derby stands at 19 3-year-olds.