Kentucky Derby watchers can scratch Panadol and Rombauer off their proposed tickets, after connections for the two horses said they won’t run the May 1 Derby.

Rombauer-Derby exit
One of the better closers in the country, Rombauer won’t run the May 1 Kentucky Derby, but expect to see him two weeks later in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. (Image: Zoe Metz Photography)

Both horses had guaranteed spots. Panadol had 40 points and the supplemental Triple Crown fee behind him. Rombauer was originally outside the initial 40-point threshold, but defections brought him inside.

Panadol sat 14th on the Derby points ladder, but his connections apparently balked at sending the UAE Derby runner up to the US more than a week earlier than planned. The early ship came because of quarantine rules.

As for Rombauer, he moved up to 19th following the defections of Weyburn and the original bubble horse, Proxy. His 34 points came with a runner-up in the Grade 1 American Pharoah last fall, his El Camino Real victory on the Golden Gate Fields synthetic, and a third in the Blue Grass Stakes behind Essential Quality and Highly Motivated.

Rombauer was an exotic must-use

But the closer – a sneaky dark horse for Derby exotics who often reward down-ticket deep closers – will instead run the Preakness or the Belmont. That news came via a tweet from owner John Fradkin.

“Preakness and Belmont is our plan if the Racing Gods cooperate and he stays healthy,” read a portion of Fradkin’s tweet.

Rombauer has a Preakness spot, courtesy of his El Camino Real Derby victory, where he came from last to first.

This guarantees a post for Hidden Stash, who now sits 20th. It also means Hidden Stash’s trainer, Vicki Oliver, becomes the first female trainer of a Derby horse since Carla Gaines saddled Bolo in 2015. Hidden Stash’s 32 points came from his second in the Tampa Bay Derby to Helium, a third in the Sam F. Davis to Candy Man Rocket and Nova Rags, and a fourth in the Blue Grass.

Dream Shake provides intrigue, potential

It also opens a spot for the next horse behind Hidden Stash, Dream Shake. His 30 points came from a third in the Santa Anita Derby to Rock Your World and Medina Spirit, and a third in the San Felipe to Life Is Good and Medina Spirit. Earlier, Dream Shake shook up Santa Anita Park when he decisively captured a February maiden race featuring the heralded Bezos.

Just this week, UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance, along with Weyburn and Proxy, preceded Panadol and Rombauer to the exits. In so doing, O Besos (25 points) now takes his place on the Derby bubble. Behind him are Grade 1 winner Get Her Number, Bob Baffert’s Hozier, and King Fury, in that order. All three have 20 points.

Of that trio, only King Fury’s connections indicated they’d run the Derby.

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