Hounds in Derby hunt

THE Aidan O’Brien-trained Master Of Hounds will face a maximum of 18 rivals when he bids to make history in the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs tonight.

The not-unexpected withdrawal of Uncle Mo significantly increases hopes that Master Of Hounds can become a first European-trained winner of the ‘Run for the Roses’.

Uncle Mo, brilliant winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November, met with a shock defeat in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct last month at odds of 1-10.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, he had been under veterinary supervision since that run, and track officials confirmed on Friday morning he had been scratched after days of speculation.

Master Of Hounds, meanwhile, will be having his first run on dirt, having performed with great credit when just denied by the smart Godolphin filly Khawlah in the UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup night.

Third in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, he will be ridden for the first time by top American pilot Garrett Gomez, who won the 2007 Kentucky Oaks in the Coolmore colours aboard Rags To Riches.

Gomez told the Thoroughbred Times after seeing the horse for the first time earlier in the week: “He looked very laid-back and looked like a horse who doesn’t have a lot bothering him.

“I’ll speak to Aidan to get an idea of what he wants on Saturday, and I’ll watch some more film too.

“Ballydoyle is a nice training centre with multiple surfaces.

“They wouldn’t send him if he didn’t have a shot.

“The real positive is that in Dubai that was his first run as a three-year-old, and he looked real nice

“Coolmore has a great facility, and it’s an honor to be riding for them.”

In an open affair the likely favourite is the Nick Zito-trained Florida Derby winner Dialed In, the mount of Julien Leparoux.

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