Derby week: Scratches change lineup at Churchill Downs

Matt Stone/The Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
It's Derby Wednesday, the calm before the storm as we head towards the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — We’ve hit midweek of Kentucky Derby week — and if you’re outside the walls of Churchill Downs, you’d think nothing of it.

The major works — and we’re hoping — major scratches are over.  The biggest news thus far this week was that Encino is medically unable to run in the Derby, and will be scratched.  Because of this, Epic Ride, trained by the easy-to-root-for John Ennis, enters the starting gate.

For those of you unfamiliar with horse racing, the “saddle cloth” is the piece of fabric on which the horse’s assigned program number rests; the post position is a different story.  A legitimately interesting part of this: every horse 10-21 slides from a more outside post to a more inside one.  This affects one of the most intriguing horses in the race — the Japanese-trained Forever Young, who moved from being loaded into the gate first to being loaded last.  This means he’ll spend significantly less time waiting for the race to start than previous to the scratch.

Outside of Encino’s scratch, it genuinely seems as though all horses is training well and should be good to go Saturday.  The best Derby is for as many great horses to run as well as they possibly can.

Here are some personal quick-hits from around the barns:

— The likely favorite, Fierceness, looks great.  If he runs his race, he wins.

He looks comfortable, happy, and professional.  There’s nothing not to like about his performance and demeanor.

— Wood Memorial winner, Resilience, is a total pro who also looks very comfortable at Churchill. He looks as good as any Wood winner in the last decade.

— Trainer Danny Gargan joined the podcast Monday (interview here) and he was positive about longshot Society Man.  He loves they were able to book jockey Frankie Dettori for this race — and as a European jockey, he’s been in many larger fields in his career.

Gargan was explicit that he expects Dettori to do all the right things Saturday.

— In an unexpected twist, T O Password (JPN) has looked more Derby-ready than his Japanese cohort Forever Young.  You’ll get a huge price on T O Password in the Derby.

Derby mailbag

It’s your last chance to get in your Derby questions to the mailbag.  Email us at tsthorseracing@gmail.com — there are no bad questions.  If they don’t make it to print, we will always email back.

We’ll be back Friday with the final preview.  Now, where are those Juleps??