As soon as Dinard was declared out of the Kentucky Derby, you'd have figured Tank to be on the first van to Churchill Downs, right?
"We're not going," trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said yesterday between races at Pimlico Race Course.
The decision leaves Maryland without a Derby horse for the second straight year.
The defection of Dinard, the pre-Derby favorite, was not enough enticement for Perkins to test his star Maryland-bred against what remains of the nation's top 3-year-olds in the May 4 classic.
"[Owner] Mrs. [Allaire] duPont just doesn't want to go," said Perkins. "She doesn't see any point in taking a chance with such an unseasoned horse. She used Dinard as an example for what can happen when these horses get pushed so hard so early."
Dinard was withdrawn Wednesday with a torn suspensory ligament in his left knee.
Tank has run five times, winning three, including a 7 1/2 -length victory in the Garden State Stakes in his most recent start. Perkins had planned to work the horse yesterday or today, then make a decision concerning the Derby, but he said Mrs. duPont's reluctance took precedence -- so Perkins didn't work him.
Perkins said he and his father, Ben Sr., have outlined a tentative agenda for the colt that also will leave him out of the Preakness. "We're looking at the Jersey Derby [on May 27 at Garden State Park] for his next start," he said.
"That shouldn't come up a super-tough race like those other two. And it will be a perfect spot for him if we want to go in the Belmont [Stakes, June 8].
"You always do what the owner wants. If he were my horse, I don't even know if I'd be 100 percent gung-ho on going. I mean, he might be that good, but he may end up proving he doesn't belong with these horses anyway."
Meanwhile, the Derby field could be the smallest since 1979, when Spectacular Bid won in a field of 10. Churchill Downs officials yesterday listed Green Alligator's status as "still undetermined." The unstarted colt, Big Al's Express, is entered in tomorrow's Derby Trial, but trainer Tom Allen said the colt "has to give a good account of himself" before earning a Derby berth.
A spokesman at Hollywood Park in California said trainer Ron McAnally still is undecided whether to run Olympio, winner of Saturday's Arkansas Derby. McAnally reportedly is considering Olympio and/or Sea Cadet for the race. If he runs Sea Cadet, Chris McCarron -- who was to ride Dinard -- will ride him.
NOTES: The Derby Trial will be simulcast to Pimlico and the Laurel inter-track outlet. A field of 12 was entered. . . . Snork ($3.60), ridden by Jacinto Vasquez, won the $16,500 feature at Pimlico yesterday. Vasquez teamed with leading trainer King Leatherbury to win one other race on the card.