By Gene Kershner
LOUISVILLE,Ky. -- Late this morning, the Churchill Downs media department announced the scratch of Black Onyx from the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Kelly Breen announced in a media briefing that the scratch was due to a non-displaced chip in his left ankle discovered this morning after training. He was to break from the first gate on Saturday. The notification of the scratch was subsequent to 9 a.m. this morning, which left Fear the Kitten, the only horse on the also-eligible list on the outside looking in.
The 9 a.m. deadline is due to the start of advance wagering on the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs announced that the first gate will be left empty with the other horses still breaking from their assigned posts.
Breen noticed a little swelling in the ankle of the Spiral Stakes winner prior to an early morning gallop. "He trained, he did gallop, he came back he was at a 1 out of 5 lameness and warranted us to take an X-ray where we found that he does have a chip to his left ankle," said Breen. The X-rays were obtained after the 9 a.m. deadline which was not timely enough for Fear the Kitten. "He's back in the barn, he's not feeling all that bad because he just tried to bite me," Breen joked trying to lighten the somber mood in the room.
Jockey Joe Bravo was disappointed but glad that the injury wasn't catastrophic. "I'm just very hopeful that the horse is going to be okay," said Bravo. This was to be the third career Kentucky Derby mount for the jockey affectionately known as Jersey Joe.