Todd Pletcher nominated 24 of the 156 horses drawn for the $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II), set to run March 22 at Turfway Park, it was announced Feb. 24.
Pletcher's 24 nominations are the most ever from one trainer. The leading conditioner has twice won the Lane’s End, first with Balto Star in 2001, and again with Flower Alley in 2005. Larry Jones, who won the Lane’s End last year with Triple Crown contender Hard Spun, is represented by a single nominee, Ferragamo, a recent winner at Oaklawn Park.
Among the nominees are Texas Fever (trainer Michael Stidham), Chitoz (Pletcher), and Blackberry Road (David Carroll), who finished in that order in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) at Turfway Park last fall. Blackberry Road later was second to Z Fortune in the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III), and fifth behind Pyro and Z Fortune in the Risen Star (gr. III), beaten just 3 1/2 lengths despite being jammed in traffic for most of the race.
Pyro and Z Fortune, both top early Derby contenders and both trained by Steve Asmussen, also are nominated to the Lane’s End.
Also nominated are Turfway Prevue winner U. S. Cavalry (Michael Maker), and WEBN Stakes winner Big Glen (Frank Brothers); both local prep races for the Lane’s End. The third local prep, the John A. Battaglia Memorial, runs March 1.
Trainer Mark Casse nominated five, including three owned solely or in partnership by William S. Farish and/or William S. Farish Jr. of Lane’s End Farm, who has sponsored the race since 2002.
Run at 1 1/8 miles, the Lane’s End Stakes is a prep race for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), and traditionally runs six weeks before the first Saturday in May. The $300,000 winner’s share virtually clinches a spot in the Derby gate should more than 20 seek to run for the roses.