Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tale of Two Lexingtons

I think we all can agree that today's Lexington Stakes, run thousands of miles and hundreds years apart from the historical battle that set the course for The United States of America, holds little significance for the current state of three-year-old Thoroughbreds gunning for the Kentucky Derby.

In fact, the one horse that can guarantee himself a place in the Derby starting gate with a win - Connemara - is a synthetic surface specialist whose trainer, Todd Pletcher, has yet to venture off the fake stuff with this son of Giant's Causeway and already has, I don't know, 12 Derby starters. Connemara, a tepid 5-1 co-second choice, is more likely to miss the board than hit it today.

This ragtag group of three-year-olds may remind one of the disheveled, disorganized and dangerous bunch of farmers-turned-patriots who marched towards Lexington properly pissed-off at their pompous, parliamentary adversaries in the year 1775. Of course the stakes and circumstances were just a little different that day 235 years ago, yet both had represented a stop on the march towards something more.

In two days, the people of Lexington and Concord will replay the events of that fateful day - tying up traffic and confusing lost tourists along the way. At about the same time all of the Lexington Stakes crew will be eating hay or oats preparing for something quite different from the greatest day in racing.

If I do play the Lexington Stakes in a multi-race exotic, it will go something like this in Pick Three: a single, two deep and then the all button in the Lexington Stakes. Maybe the impression of Stately Victor has me spooked, but just as I can draw a line through all the Lexington runners, I can also make a case for just about every horse winning. And why not try to be alive with all at the tail end of Pick Three? Let's see if I can get there...

Race 7 - OC 80k/N3W, 1 1/6 miles - This looks to be a chalky affair to won between Deal Breaker, Forest Attack and Canyon Drive.
  • As a six-time winner Forest Attack must be taken seriously winning and placing in minor stakes at Turfway Park and just missing at Keenland last year going six furlongs. Canyon Drive is stepping up in class, but may just get loose on the lead here, if Final Count isn't ready or willing to go with him coming off a six month layoff. My hope lands with Deal Breaker having just a bit more class than his rivals, saving ground patiently at the rail and making a bold run turning for home to take this event as 2-1 favorite. I'm guessing his trainer Mike Mitchell has brought this five-year-old from California for more than just a run around the track.
Race 8 - Giant's Causeway, 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf - In which we hope for a bomb, but take safety with co-favorite.
  • Canadian Ballet is fast period. She is the fastest mare in here and will get a clear look at her competition coming from the far post. Her trainer, Linda Rice, excels in these turf events and if one of the three speed horses in this field are likely to hold on, it's Canadian Ballet. If I get through the first leg single, the real hope here is that Valentine Fever stoutly closes on three fading speed horses and picks up the pieces at 10-1 or greater. She's the only dead-closer in the field and if they go out under 22 seconds for the first quarter, she'll have a real chance. West Ocean presents the biggest danger, but I'm looking for her to bounce coming off a course-record performance off the funky Fair Grounds turf.
Race 9 - Lexington, 1 1/16 miles - The gates open and everyone has a chance...
  • As stated earlier, I will hit the all button here in a 12-horse field. But if you're interested in who I like the best it would come down to these three: Krypton for winning going away at Keenland in his last; Distorted Dave because everything John Sadler sends out lately should be bet; and Kettle River who might bounce back to his impressive win two back after disappointing in the Sham.
I'll give you two Pick Threes because after writing all that, I am suddenly on the fence on what I'll do.

Scenario one: 1/2-8/All for $24
Scenario two: 1-2-4/2-7-8/1-3-11 for $27

Good luck with your wagers!


  1. Great strategy, Tony. Your "all" strategy was solid with a 19-1 Lexington winner. Too bad there was a even money favorite that prevented you from making the winning wager.

    You took a stand against WEST OCEAN with terrific reasoning. Does this effort make you more or less impressed with her going forward?

    EXHI looks like a Preakness colt...that is if most of the Derby speed bypasses the race.

  2. Close but no win...that's how it's going for me lately. West Ocean was impressive, period...won going away

    I agree about Exhi, we'll see