Spanish Chestnut, the only graded stakes winner in the bunch, drew post 8 Thursday afternoon for Saturday's $500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park. The West Coast shipper was installed the 5-2 morning line favorite by Turfway's announcer and odds maker Mike Battaglia. The nine-furlong prep for the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) drew a field of nine.
The Lane's End, along with the 1 1/16-mile Rushaway Stakes, will be broadcast live on ESPN on a program that runs from 4:30-5:30 p.m. EST.
Spanish Chestnut, bred in Florida by Don Graham and Ocala Oaks, won the one-mile San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 15 at Santa Anita in 1:36.69 in a wire-to-wire effort. In his last start, he set the pace while between horses and tired to finish third in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II). That effort can be hardly faulted has the winner was last year' s champion 2-year-old male Declan's Moon.
By Horse Chestnut
out of the No Sale George mare Baby Rabbit, Spanish Chestnut is trained by Patrick Biancone. A $550,000 OBS select sale 2-year-old, he is owned by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith. Tabor's Lion Tamer finished fourth as the 4-5 favorite in 2003 Lane's End.
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens has the call on Spanish Chestnut. Stevens makes his first Lane's End appearance in nearly a decade and has ridden in three previous runnings, finishing second aboard Stalwars in 1988, fourth on Snappy Landing in 1992, and third on Victory Speech in 1996.
The favorite in the Lane's End has not won since 1998 when Event of the Year stormed home in front at 3-5. Of the others looking to upend the chalk, perhaps Texcess has the best shot.
Listed at 6-1 on the morning line, Texcess finished third in the San Rafael in his 3-year-old debut, and then came back to run second in the San Mateo Mile Stakes at Bay Meadows. The Cal-bred son of In Excess
has the most earnings in the field, $763,427, based largely on his victory in the $1-million Boyd Gaming's Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs Dec. 4.
Trainer Paul Aquirre will take the blinkers off Texcess for the Lane's End and has employed jockey Rene Douglas to ride. Aquirre credits Douglas' efforts in the mornings aboard the gelding as to his improved work habits. Texcess drilled a half-mile in :46 3/5 Monday morning at Hollywood Park in his last effort before shipping to northern Kentucky.
Bred by Ron Gomez, Texcess is owned by Aquirre and Omar Aldabbagh. This will be his sixth stakes in seven career efforts. He finished second, beaten a head, in his debut in the Barretts Juvenile Stakes last September at Fairplex before winning the California Cup Juvenile Stakes at the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita. An allowance victory Nov. 14 at Hollywood Park preceded his score in the Delta Jackpot.
The 3-1 second choice in the morning line is local hope Magna Graduate. Winner of the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes for owner Betty Alexander, Magna Graduate rattled off five furlongs in 1:01 at Churchill Downs Monday morning in his last serious work for trainer Pat Byrne.
Andromeda's Hero, trained by Nick Zito, is a 5-1 chance on the morning line and will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano. Bejarano won the riding title at Turfway last year with a record 150 wins, but is now riding in Southern California. Andromeda's Hero, a Kentucky-bred son of Fusaichi Pegasus
, is coming off an off-the-pace score in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Trainer Ken McPeek has a pair of runners for the Lane's End in Wild Desert (6-1) and Diamond Isle (15-1). McPeek saddled Tejano Run to a second-place finish in 1996.
Trainer Jennifer Pedersen and Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable are looking to strike lightning twice with 15-1 shot Mr Sword. Those connections took home the money in 2003 with 14-1 New York Hero.
The lightly raced Mayan King, owned by David Cassidy, Ed Lipton, and Our Canterbury Stables; and the maiden-winning Todd Pletcher-trained Flower Alley complete the cast.Lane's End Stakes (gr. II), $500,000, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles, Turfway Park, Saturday, March 26, ESPN (4:30-5:30 p.m. EST)
PP - Horse - Jockey - M/L
1 - Diamond Isle - Dean Sarvis - 15-1
2 - Magna Graduate - Jerry Bailey - 3-1
3 - Wild Desert - Robby Albarado - 6-1
4 - Andromeda's Hero - Rafael Bejarano - 5-1
5 - Flower Alley - Jorge Chavez - 8-1
6 - Texcess - Rene Douglas - 6-1
7 - Mayan King - Joe Bravo - 15-1
8 - Spanish Chestnut - Gary Stevens - 5-2
9 - Mr Sword - Norberto Arroyo Jr. - 15-1