Longshot Haikal scratched from Kentucky Derby

Longshot Haikal scratched from Kentucky Derby”

In a late decision, Hall of Famer and Triple Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith has been named to ride Cutting Humor in the Kentucky Derby in place of Corey Lanerie, who was announced to have the mount when entries were revealed on Tuesday.

Smith won last year's Derby with Justify, trained by Baffert.

Haikal joins early favorite Omaha Beach on the sidelines for Saturday's race. But instead of reuniting with Justify trainer Bob Baffert on one of this three Derby entries this year, Smith chose to go with Omaha Beach, a decision that looked to be promising until the horse was scratched Wednesday. The boost marks the first time since 2005 that the Kentucky Derby's purse has increased. They went on to sweep the Preakness and Belmont to capture the Triple Crown.

Churchill Downs' decision to boost the prize pool coincides with record betting totals for the race in recent years. His 42-year-old wife died of breast cancer last June. That leaves the field at 19.

Cutting Humor trainer Todd Pletcher told the Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman on Friday that the decision was made by Starlight Racing principal owner Jack Wolf after he consulted with Smith and Lanerie.

Another horse was officially scratched from the lineup Friday morning after a few days of speculation while a jockey is back in the race after his original ride was scratched due to health reasons. "The horse always comes first". The problem should clear shortly, but the colt ran out of time to prepare for the 1¼-mile Derby.

With the scratch, the rail will remain empty and Derby horses will break from posts 2 through 20.

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