September 23, 2023

McCraken to skip Tampa Bay Derby

McCraken won all three juvenile starts at Churchill Downs, including his first stakes victory in the Street Sense (c) Coady Photo

Leading Kentucky Derby (G1) contender McCraken will bypass the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 11 due to a minor ankle issue. The problem was diagnosed following a half-mile workout at Palm Meadows on Monday.

“He’s got a slight strain in his ankle,” trainer Ian Wilkes told Thoroughbred Daily News. “He X-rayed clean, but I don’t want to come back and work him next week (ahead of the Tampa Bay Derby). I would rather skip that race and take care of the horse.”

Unbeaten in three juvenile starts, including the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, McCraken opened 2017 with a 1 ½-length victory in the February 11 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. Wilkes planned three races in advance of the Kentucky Derby on May 6, but has been forced to readjust the schedule with the April 8 Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland serving as the only remaining prep.

McCraken closed at 6-1, the lowest-priced individual interest, in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager last weekend. The Janis Whitham homebred colt is by Ghostzapper.