Kentucky Derby 2012: Mark Valeski Out; Optimizer In

Mark Valeski, second in both the G2-Louisiana Derby and G2-Risen Star at the Fair Grounds earlier this spring, will skip Saturday’s running of the 2012 Kentucky Derby, according to his trainer Larry Jones.

The three-year-old son of Proud Citizen is not suffering from any injuries, instead Larry Jones didn’t feel that the colt ultimately belonged in the race.

The defection of Mark Valeski allows Optimizer to slide into the Derby field. Optimizer, trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, finished second in the G2-Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park before running a very disappointing ninth in the G1-Arkansas Derby. Prior to today, Optimizer sat at #21 on the graded earnings list; the Derby starters are limited to the top 20 horses based on earnings in graded stakes races. With Mark Valeski now out of the race, Optimizer will get a shot at the Run for the Roses.

Other Kentucky Derby news on Tuesday, May 1st:

  • Rousing Sermon worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 under the Twin Spires on Tuesday morning, and galloped out in 1:14. The work was second fastest of the 17 to work the distance this morning, but one of only six horses to work five furlongs while the track was listed as “FAST”. Rain in Louisville created a wet track later in the morning.
  • Four Derby contenders worked over the Churchill Downs main track on Monday:

    Liaison
    worked five furlongs in 1:00.80, seventh fastest of 28 at the distance.

    Creative Cause
    worked four furlongs in 47.80, third fastest of 57.

    Sabercat
    worked four furlongs in 48.40 (10/57).

    Daddy Nose Best
    worked four furlongs in 49.40 (29/57).
  • Entries and post positions for Friday's 2012 Kentucky Oaks will be finalized this afternoon.
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