“King Fury spiked a 104-(degree) fever this afternoon after he galloped this morning, and he went off his feed,” trainer Kenny McPeek said early Friday afternoon in a video message posted to Twitter. “We obviously have to do the right thing. Unfortunately he’s not 100 percent.”
The winner of the Lexington Stakes (G3) three weeks ago at Keeneland, King Fury was carrying odds of 23-1 in live pari-mutuel betting at the time of McPeek’s Tweet. The Curlin colt, bought for $950,000 by a partnership led by Paul Fireman, has raced just the one time since he finished fifth last fall in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs.
“This is a horse that’s been doing well all week,” McPeek said. “Anybody that watched him train had to be impressed. I know I was, and I felt pretty confident going into this race that we had a big chance.”
McPeek went on to say King Fury would probably be pointed toward the Travers Stakes (G1) on Aug. 28 at Saratoga.
Drawn into post 16, King Fury’s absence means that the No. 20 stall will be left open, and Highly Motivated, Super Stock, Soup and Sandwich and Bourbonic will move in one position each, according to the Churchill Downs communications office. Horses 1-15 will stay put in the stalls they were assigned.
Brian Hernandez Jr. would have had the Derby ride on King Fury.