Preakness runner-up Oliver's Twist got a break yesterday when Da Hoss, the highly regarded second choice in today's $300,000 Ohio Derby in Cleveland, was scratched.
Michael Dickinson, who trains the Jersey Derby winner at the Fair Hill Training Center in Cecil County, said some mucus showed up after Da Hoss worked three-eighths of a mile at Fair Hill yesterday.
"He's not sick. He has no fever," said Dickinson, who decided after the workout to withdraw the Gone West gelding. "But when mucus shows up, he's not likely to run well."
The departure of Da Hoss, who has yet to finish worse than second in eight starts, means only six horses will run in the 1 1/8 -mile race. The winner earns $180,000.
It's the first start for Oliver's Twist since he was narrowly beaten by Timber Country in the Preakness a month ago. Oliver's Twist, trained by Billy Boniface and Maryland bred, finished second, a neck in front of Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Thunder Gulch.
Oliver's Twist is the 2-1 Ohio Derby favorite, but the race is no cinch.
Albert Delgado, the horse's local jockey, will face stiff challenges from Pat Day on the California colt Petionville, and from Corey Nakatani, the nation's leading jockey, who rides Arkansas and Alabama Derby winner Dazzling Falls.
The rest of the field is composed of three long shots -- I Still %% Believe, the expected pace-setter; Is Sveikatas, who was 10th in the Belmont Stakes, and Wishful Song, a claimer.
Oliver's Twist arrived in Ohio yesterday in good shape, according to officials at Thistledown, site of the race.
Earlier this week, Boniface said his horse was training well.
Dickinson will run Da Hoss in the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park on July 2, where he could face Timber Country, or in the Arlington Classic on July 3 at Arlington International Racecourse. Boniface-trained Ops Smile also is being pointed for the Arlington race.