Race of the Week – The Lexington

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As the defections roll in with the top 20 headed for the Run for the Roses, the Lexington will represent the only bonus race in this week’s Road to Kentucky contest.  It’s the homestretch in our contest and last week’s HUGE scores shook the standings – We have a new overall leader.  There’s still time to make up ground though, and as Danza & Dance with Fate demonstrated last week this bonus race could make all the difference.   It (like the Bluegrass) has fallen from prominence since Charismatic doubled up in the Derby in ’99 due to the track surface generally drawing & favoring turf runners or synthetic specialists.  Talented animals fill its gate each year but without real intent to hit the triple crown trail for the most part – Could we see another Hammers Terror (3rd in 2012) in a couple of months?

It’s quite possible with the field entered.  There’s a couple cross-entered in the Illinois Derby, but either way the pace doesn’t look like it’ll be sizzling.  It should be healthy with Solitary Ranger present though, and Florent Geroux and he have an excellent chance at wiring the field should they be allowed to relax early as in the John Battaglia.  In line with the Bluegrass again, the Lexington traditionally favors a wide & closing journey though, so for betting purposes this one will be left underneath in lieu of the Triple Crown Tornado that is Todd Pletcher.  He wins this race constantly (four of the last six to be exact) and brings another full house to the table to play for win number six overall.  Divine Oath was obviously ready to go a week ago but didn’t make it into the Bluegrass…so here is $200,000 plan B.  Well rested and well drawn.  It’s not a clever exacta but this race will not count at all towards the Derby and thus this handicapper’s time has been spent keeping the pen handy to cross out ANOTHER defection from the top 20.***To clarify:  I am NOT crossing my fingers for Bayern to draw in.  Yes, I could go fish a future ticket out of the garbage but after Arkansas this may be too much too soon.  He needed to run in the San Felipe and that’s where the story ends.  Hopefully he joins in somewhere later on.***

A little nostalgia…

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a little love to the Illinois Derby.  Despite producing a derby winner more recently than the Lexington, the Stickney Spring feature remains a non-factor point-wise on the Derby trail.  The timing of the race was moved to lure horses looking to the Preakness, and last year the gate was bulging and the payoffs were juicy.  The track has been quite kind to speed for a majority of the meet but a good part of that bias was a result of a hard, frozen surface provided by a frigid winter.  It is, however, a track that one must keep an eye on day to day.  Different parts can play well on any given day with the constant maintenance required (weather) and it’d be worth your while to check charts not only from the day but from the weekend to catch any outstanding trend.  That being said, Midnight Hawk has an adaptable style that shouldn’t be hampered by any bias and that morning line is probably right on the money.  If the race was 1 1/16 miles, I’d agree with the public.  Seeing his route races and the visible struggle he seems to have with them takes me to the outside with Class Leader in this spot.  There should be a scratch or two with horses cross-entered at Keeneland but this colt drew nicely as it is to stalk the pacesetter from the outside.  Graham knows how to find the winners’ circle aboard him and his charge is quite familiar with a long, grueling stretch drive.  There isn’t an abundance of pace drawn in but again watch the track, as even the slowest of paces can swallow up front runners if the surface is playing otherwise.

Let’s wave goodbye to the winter weather and hello to the horses!  Just a short time remains until the Derby so good luck to those in the hunt in R2K – See you Saturday! 

Angela Hermann

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Comments

  1. Any updates comming on what Jockey’s and trainers will be comming to Canterbury this Spring? Any chances Ry Eikleberry is going to be here this Spring? JW

    • Yes Ry Eikleberry will be back this year. He dominated at Sunland.
      No definite word on new jockeys just yet. There always are a few though. Rumor suggests Quincy Hamilton will ride here. Also hearing that Derek Bell may not return. Hoping that rumor proves false.

      Many of the same trainers will be back, but with more horses. The stable area opened yesterday for out of state horses but only one trainer shipped in. As things unfold we will provide blog updates

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