Jockey Calvin Borel has won the Kentucky Derby three times in the last four years, but not until Wednesday did he line up a mount for this year's race on May 7. Borel secured the assignment on Twice the Appeal, a horse he has never ridden and who only got into the Derby after scoring a 25-1 upset in the Sunland Derby with jockey Christian Santiago Reyes.
"My owners had a vote, and that's what they wanted to do," Bonde said.
Bonde said he expected Borel to be on Twice the Appeal when he has his final Derby workout Friday morning at Churchill Downs.
Earlier Wednesday, Borel's agent, Jerry Hissam, said that he had turned down a chance to get on Watch Me Go, the Tampa Bay Derby winner who has been ridden by little-known Luis Garcia in his last five starts. Watch Me Go won the Tampa Bay Derby as a 43-1 shot before finishing sixth, beaten 17 lengths, as the 2-1 favorite in the Illinois Derby.
The bumping of Reyes, and the possibility that Garcia will be moved, is not uncommon this close to the Derby, when owners and trainers often seek jockeys with greater national experience. But, until Wednesday, this year's Derby had seen little of that maneuvering. In fact, such outstanding riders as Kent Desormeaux and Edgar Prado -- both of whom are Derby winners -- along with Garrett Gomez, Rafael Bejarano, and Javier Castellano still do not have a confirmed mounts in this year's Derby, and there are precious few options remaining.
In a game of musical chairs, the music is about to stop.
The choicest mount out there right now is Master of Hounds, the European colt scheduled to ship to Kentucky next Tuesday for trainer Aidan O'Brien. Calls and e-mails to O'Brien's Ballydoyle training center in Ireland in recent days have yielded little on the jockey front, only that no decision has yet been made on a rider.
Tony Matos, the agent for Gomez, said he was hoping to pick up something late, just as he did with Victor Espinoza on War Emblem in 2002, and with Angel Cordero Jr. on Cannonade in 1974.
"I picked up War Emblem at the last second, and Cannonade at the Derby Trial," Matos said Wednesday.
Another mount that may come into play is Anthony's Cross. He is now one spot away from making the Derby field, following the announcement Wednesday that Silver Medallion, who had been No. 21 on the graded stakes earnings list, was not under consideration for the race.
Both Steve Asmussen, who trains Silver Medallion, and Mike Ryan, the colt's co-owner, said Wednesday that Silver Medallion would be freshened following two races in 14 days. Silver Medallion ran in the Lexington just two weeks after a start in the Santa Anita Derby.
His defection makes Anthony's Cross the next horse eligible to get in, if there is a defection from the 20 horses currently in the field. The Derby field is limited to 20 starters. If more than that enter the race, graded stakes earnings is the criteria for inclusion.
Anthony's Cross is currently based at Hollywood Park and will work there Sunday, trainer Eoin Harty said.