The Week Ahead: Last Chance in Lexington

The $300,000 Coolmore Lexington (G2) has become the proverbial “play-in game” for the Derby trail as the winner is guaranteed a spot in the Run for the Roses.  A field of 12 is expected for the signature stakes race of the 3rd weekend of the spring at Keeneland.  Here’s a bit more about some of the unfamiliar names:

Advice– A son of first-crop sire Chapel Royal, this Todd Pletcher trainee is fresh off a 5th place finish in the Sunland Derby, which was his first start on conventional dirt.  In four tries on synthetics his best effort was a 3rd place finish in the Arlington-Washington Futurity where he was disqualified from second.
Brave Victory– It took this son of Lion Heart three tries to break his maiden and once he had earned his first victory trainer Nick Zito threw him to the wolves.  He was given a rest after off the board finishes in the Champagne and Iroquois.  A sharp allowance win at Gulfstream prompted Zito to enter him in a stake once again but he was overmatched in the Swale, finishing 4th beaten over 8 lengths.
Conservative– A half to stakes placed turfer Pick Six, this son of Unbridled’s Song was last seen winning a N1X allowance at Gulfstream that had been taken off the turf.  He’s now a winner of two in a row and like most Shug McGaughey trainers he has no early speed.  Thus, teh Polytrack may suit his style perfectly.
El Crespo– One of the few graded stakes winners set to spar here, this son of A.P. Indy just scored in the Palm Beach over the Gulfstream lawn.  His lone dirt try was quite poor as he finished 9th of 10 in the Holy Bull.  He debuted on the Polytrack and finished 9th, so the jury is still out on his ability on non-turf surfaces.
His Greatness– A winner at first asking, this son of Honour and Glory has run against good company as he showed up in the Arlington-Washington Futurityand Breeders’ Futurity as a two year-old.  In his first start as a three year-old he scored in a first-level optional claimer and was last seen running a game 3rd in the Illinois Derby at 51-1. 
Jeranimo– After breaking his maiden in career start #2, this guy ran well in his first try against winners in late February.  He came back to run 3rd in the San Felipe behind Pioneerof the Nile and is clearly improving as he gains experience.
Masala–   After breaking his maiden in November at Aqueduct, this Todd Pletcher trainee was given some time off before returning in an allowance race on Donn day at Gulfstream.  He ran a game second to Take the Points on a track that favored speed and that prompted Pletcher to try him in the Gotham at Aqueduct.  He was no factor that afternoon and will now show up here as they attempt to regroup. 
Mythical Power– After breaking his maiden in career start #3 trainer Bob Baffert tried this guy in the rich Sunland Derby.  He finished second beaten only by the heavily seasoned Kelly Leak and showed he is a very game horse.  Baffert plans to fly across country to saddle this son of Congaree and he’ll retain the riding services of Garrett Gomez.
Omniscient- The familiar colors of the Stonestreet Stables will be worn by Robby Albarado on this son of Pulpit who is gradually improving for Steve Asmussen.  He is untested on synthetic surfaces as his three career starts have all come on the dirt.  Asmussen has nary a Derby contender, so don’t be surprised if this guy runs a big one.
Parade Clown– A stakes winner over the Polytrack at Turfway, this guy exits a respectable 4th place finish in the Lane’s End.  He was relatively close to a hot early pace that day and still fought on well in the lane.  He rates a big chance based on his ability to handle synthetics and favorable running style.
Pitched Perfectly– Son of first-crop sire Pleasantly Perfect, this guy hasn’t been out since late January when he scored at Aqueduct over subsequent stakes winner Cliffy’s Future.  He ran a truly remarkable race in that N1X  event as he set a viciously hot pace but still finished well enough to get the job done.  He has been privately purchased by the Lael Stables and clearly can run a bit, so give him a look.
Santana Six– Zito trainee debuted in the Dunkirk Derby on Sunshine Millions day and he ran very well that afternoon.  He came back to break his maiden in start #2 as he was stretched out to a mile.  He came back with a win in his first try against winners and seems poised to make the jump into stakes company.
Square Eddie- Easily the most accomplished member of this group as this guy scored handily over this track in the Breeders’ Futurity last October.  He’s had some health problems since his 2nd place finish in the San Rafael but trainer Doug O’Neill says he’s ready to roll.

That’s the expected field for the Lexington and it is shaping up as a great betting race.  The featured event at Aqueduct on Saturday is the Bed O’ Roses (G2) for older fillies and mares going 7 furlongs.  It might be the 2009 debut of Seattle Smooth, who closed her 2008 campaign with a win in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Handicap.

See you Friday night for a weekend stakes preview!

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