The Lexington brought to mind a similar prep race at Keeneland - the 2006 running of the Blue Grass Stakes, when the Bob Baffert-trained Sinister Minister smoked the field. In this race Baffert saddled the Songandaprayer colt Samba Rooster, who went jetting to the front to open a four length lead under Garrett Gomez through a quarter in :22.78. The sizzling fractions continued as St. Joe tracked along in second and Riley Tucker was third going the half in :45.21.
“I love it when I see those quick, quick fractions on the lead,” said jockey David Flores. “I was just on cruise control on this horse. He started picking up horses at the five-eighths (pole) and I just tried to relax. On the turn he went to a different stride.”
“I was trying to help him along,” Gomez said of Samba Rooster, whom he rode without a whip due to the colt’s aversion to being struck. “Sometimes on Polytrack that is speed favoring, a horse likes to try to run off – and he ran off with me for about a half mile. He finally came off the bit and turning for home he kept staying on and staying on. He kept fighting until the last jump.”
Gomez wasn’t the only jockey who had his hands full in the Lexington. Behindatthebar was keeping Flores busy as well as he drifted in with a furlong to go. After the jockey angled the colt back out, however, he finished up well to win by half a length. The final time was 1:42.14.
“We were impressed by this horse, not only today but by the way he ran in California,” said Pletcher. “Of course, we were concerned about coming back in 16 days but we knew he liked the synthetic surface so we figured we’d give it a shot.”
Behindatthebar returned $13.60, $7.60, and $5.20, while Samba Rooster paid $17 and $9.20 and Riley Tucker brought $6.80. Racecar Rhapsody, Big Glen, Tomcito, Salute the Sarge, Atoned, St. Joe, Red Sandy, and Felon completed the order of finish.