King Guillermo has been scratched by owner Victor Martinez of Victoria’s Ranch from Saturday’s Kentucky Derby 146 due to a fever.

The Uncle Mo colt was absent from his morning training session. His absence was first reported by pool reporter Greg Hall in a social media post this morning.

“We have a little problem,” said trainer Juan Carlos Avila in a text. “We have to wait until the afternoon.” Avila expected to meet with doctors to discuss the condition of the Uncle Mo colt. “It’s a big race and a little problem is a big problem for me.”

Following that meeting Avila sent this text message within the hour:

“Unfortunately he will be out of the Kentucky Derby (because of) a fever yesterday which I have not gotten out of this great dream,” Juan Carlos Ávila wrote in the message. “I feel that I have one of the best 3-year-olds in this country, and this will not be the day to show it.” 

“To race in a race like the Derby we need him at 100 percent,” Avila later said when the decision was announced. “We aren’t going to be able to demonstrate how good he is like this. I think we are going to have plenty of time to show his quality. He’s going to be a great horse and everybody knows we have to take care of the horse first. The next step is to try to get him ready for the Preakness and go from there.”

The Preakness will be run Oct. 3 at Pimlico in Baltimore.

“The sad part is that Juan said yesterday (Wednesday) was his best day here,” added owner Martinez.

King Guillermo remained in training at Churchill Downs through much of the summer and was said to be training very well. The winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) had drawn a favorable post #6. His morning line odds of 20-1 were expected to draw considerable wagering.

“When we left the track in the morning following training and came back in the afternoon for feed time, we discovered he had a fever,” said the dismayed Martinez, a former major league baseball star. “It’s just the sad part about this game.”

There will now be only 17 entries in the Derby. As a result, the two inside (post) gates and one outside gate of the new 20-horse gate will be left open. Horses will load from gates #3 through #19.

Feature photo: Owner Victor Martinez (in the black coat) leads off his Tampa Bay Derby winner King Guillermo with jockey Samy Comacho aboard. CREDIT SV Photography