LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Make it 0-for-24 for Todd Pletcher in the Kentucky Derby.

The Eclipse Award-winning trainer’s Derby drought continued Saturday when his three horses – Join in the Dance, Dunkirk and Advice – finished well behind upset winner Mine That Bird at muddy Churchill Downs.

Join in the Dance, a late entry and considered simply a pacesetter for Dunkirk, led until the top of the stretch before fading to seventh.

“He took them as far as he could and he was hanging in there,” Pletcher said. “Turning for home, I loved seeing him still up there.”

Dunkirk, trying to become the first horse since 1882 to win the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old, stumbled out of the gate and never seemed at ease in the slop. He finished 11th.

Decimated field

I Want Revenge became the first morning line favorite to scratch the day of the race in at least the last 60 years when he was pulled out of the field early Saturday morning with an ankle injury.

Yet maybe the scratch was symbolic of a trying season for this year’s 3-year-old crop.

Quality Road, Square Eddie, The Pamplemousse, Midshipman, Old Fashioned and Giant Oak were all expected to run under the famed twin spires Saturday, but never made the trip from paddock to post either due to injury, a lackluster prep season or a change in plans by the owners.

Bettin’ the ponies

Michael Phelps attended his first Kentucky Derby, bringing along his coach Bob Bowman, who owns and races thoroughbreds in Maryland.

Phelps bet on the No. 8 horse, Stealin’ Kisses, in the eighth race in honor of the record eight swimming gold medals he won at the Beijing Olympics. But the horse wasn’t as successful, finishing eighth.

Wet Derby

Heavy overnight rain produced a sloppy track and turned the Derby into a mudfest.

The track maintenance crew was prepared – having sealed the racing surface the night before by packing down the top layer of dirt. That prevents the rain from seeping into the base. What accumulates remains largely on top, where it can be easily scraped off.

The most recent Derby run in the slop was 2004 when Smarty Jones splashed to a 2-length victory.

Wet tracks are the exceptions on Derby Day. The first recorded wet Derby was 1890 when Riley prevailed by 1 lengths in the mud. The soggiest Derby was 1918 when more than 2 inches of rain hit Churchill Downs. That didn’t stop Exterminator from pulling off a 29-1 upset.

Neumeier released

NBC horse racing analyst Bob Neumeier was released from a hospital where he was taken collapsing Friday during a telecast from Churchill Downs.

NBC Sports spokesman Adam Freifeld said Neumeier was released Saturday.

Neumeier was off camera during “Ladies First: Bravo at the Kentucky Derby” when he fell ill said track spokesman Darren Rogers. He was taken to Audubon Hospital a short distance from the track.


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