LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Derby dream of Victor Martinez is over.
The retired five-time All-Star catcher owns King Guillermo, who was set to run in Saturday’s 146th Derby. But Martinez and trainer Juan Carlos Avila decided Thursday to scratch the colt because of a fever.
“It’s just the sad part about this game,” said Martinez, whose Florida-based stable is called Victoria’s Ranch.
Named for Martinez’s father, King Guillermo moved into the Derby picture in March with a victory in the Tampa Bay Derby at 49-1 odds. The colt finished second in the Arkansas Derby in early May.
Martinez was on hand to watch King Guillermo work out before dawn at Churchill Downs, where the colt has been training for a month.
“I sort of had that awe-inspiring feeling when I walked into Yankee Stadium for the first time as a player, but Churchill Downs is better,” he said.
Martinez, 41, spent 16 years in the majors, playing for Cleveland, Boston and Detroit. He retired in 2018 and founded his cattle ranch in Florida.
King Guillermo could return for the Preakness on Oct. 3.
“To race in a race like the Derby we need him at 100 percent,” Avila said. “We aren’t going to be able to demonstrate how good he is like this. 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 defection of King Guillermo leaves the Derby field at 17. Art Collector was knocked out by a minor injury before he could be entered.