This week’s big Kentucky Derby news is that Arabian Knight is now unlikely to head to Churchill Downs for the race on Saturday, May 6. For useful information about Kentucky Derby Contenders, visit TwinSpires.
Zedan Racing announced on Twitter over the weekend that Arabian Knight, a $2.3 million purchase, will not be competing in the Kentucky Derby.
Arabian Knight was bred in Kentucky by Corser Thoroughbreds LLC and was a $250,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He then headed to the Top Line Sales to the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s April Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, where Amr Zedan paid $2.3 million for the colt.
The colt, who won his previous races by a combined 12 3/4 lengths, was the second favorite at 6/1 in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. However, Churchill Downs officials suspended wagering on Arabian Knight after the announcement was made.
According to the statement, trainer Tim Yakteen was not satisfied with Arabian Knight’s recent workout, and the decision was made to give the horse more time to develop. As a result, Zedan Racing plans to target a summer and fall campaign instead with the horse.
A Rising Star
Arabian Knight won his first two races for trainer Bob Baffert and is seen as a rising star in the equine world.
He was an impressive winner of a seven-furlong maiden at Keeneland during the Breeders’ Cup meeting in November, running out a comfortable 7 1/4 length winner.
Next up, Arabian Knight headed to Oaklawn in January for the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes over 1 1/16 miles. The track was sloppy at Oaklawn, but Arabian Knight recorded another impressive victory, rolling to a 5 1/2 length success in a time of 1:43 2/5, with Red Route One claiming the second spot. The win was a record-breaking sixth for Baffert in the Southwest and a third for jockey John Velazquez.
Velazquez had high praise for Arabian Knight after landing the Southwest Stakes – “He made it look easy. He broke well, and I took advantage of it.”
While Baffert said he was feeling confident once he saw Arabian Knight establish a comfortable lead – “When he got away and got in that high cruising (speed) down the backside, I thought, if he’s as good as I think he is, there’s no excuse.”
Those two impressive performances made Arabian Knight a hot prospect for the Kentucky Derby. However, due to Baffert’s ban from Churchill Downs properties through this year’s Triple Crown and his horses’ inability to earn Kentucky Derby qualifying points, owner Amr Zedan transferred Arabian Knight to trainer Tim Yakteen to comply with the eligibility conditions of the Kentucky Derby. The conditions required any horses trained by Bob Baffert to be moved to another stable before March 1, 2023.
Baffert was suspended following the disqualification of his 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit for a drug violation. He is now involved in a high-profile legal battle to uplift the suspension.
Arabian Knight’s performances and impressive speed and stamina had drawn comparisons to Baffert’s other successful horses, such as Justify and American Pharoah.
For now, though, Arabian Knight’s plans are yet to be announced by Zedan Racing. However, it is clear that the colt is highly regarded by his connections, and his two performances to date have shown that he has the talent and ability to compete at the highest level.
Racing fans will undoubtedly keep a close eye on Arabian Knight as he continues his career, looking forward to seeing what he can achieve on the track over the coming months.