Jockey Martin Garcia, an integral part of trainer Bob Baffert's barn and the rider usually entrusted to work his elite horses, will not be in Kentucky for Derby week and has no scheduled mounts at Los Alamitos on Thursday or Friday, all after taking time off following a falling out with Baffert in recent days.
Garcia was scheduled to be part of Baffert's team at Churchill Downs on Tuesday when Mor Spirit worked, but did not make the trip. According to Baffert, he has not been in contact with the trainer after saying he needed to do something last weekend.
"I think he needs a break for a while," Baffert said Wednesday after returning to California, where he will spend a few days before heading back to Louisville over the weekend. "Sometimes I'm hard on him. I'm his biggest critic. I'm not mad at him. I just wish he'd have told me what was going on.
"He works hard. Sometimes you need to get away, reboot the system. I know he told his agent he was going to take time off and be back for when Santa Anita starts up next week."
Garcia's agent, Tony Matos, did not return a phone message left Wednesday.
Garcia is 0-for-9 at the Los Alamitos meeting, which ends Sunday. Santa Anita starts its meeting on May 5.
Baffert said jockey David Lopez would be part of his team at Churchill Downs for Derby Week. Lopez is named on Toews On Ice in the opening-night feature Saturday at Churchill, the William Walker, and will remain in Louisville to assist with works. He was on Jimbo Fallon on Tuesday when that horse worked with Mor Spirit, who had regular rider Gary Stevens up for the work.
Garcia had worked Mor Spirit most of this year, including in his final drill before the Santa Anita Derby. He was expected to be at Churchill Downs on Tuesday for Mor Spirit's work, and he was scheduled to give Mor Spirit his final pre-Derby workout next week at Churchill.
Last year, Garcia was the regular work rider for American Pharoah. He also finished third in the Derby aboard Dortmund.
"He played a very important role with American Pharoah," Baffert said. "It'll play out. Things just came to a head."