A sloppy track at Keeneland Saturday brought out the best in Peachtree Stable's surprising Coin Silver, who romped to victory in the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stake (gr. III) in his stakes debut.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said afterward that he plans to add the late arriving 3-year-old son of Anees-Beyond a Doubt (Conquistador Cielo) to his Kentucky Derby (gr. I) roster, which includes Bandini, who won the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland a week ago.
"Anytime a horse comes around this time of year, you've got to love it," Pletcher said of Coin Silver. "If he comes out of it well, we'll see if he can bounce back in two weeks."
The victory came at the expense of 3-5 favorite Rockport Harbor, who fought the track conditions while racing wide throughout, tossing in the towel in the stretch to finish sixth.
Coin Silver, sent off at 13-1, broke outward for Javier Castellano and hit the starting gate, bumping with Storm Surge as Actxecutive and Going Wild dueled on the front end. Coin Silver was able to save ground for most of the trip, moving into contention coming out of the far turn while splitting rivals. He quickly took over from the new leader, Storm Surge, in upper stretch and pulled away to a 3 1/2-length win while under a hand ride from Castellano.
"He didn't break too well and I just kept him behind the speed," said Castellano, who is the regular rider for probable Derby favorite Bellamy Road. "It was a very fast pace, so I just waited to make my run. He's a pretty good horse. I don't think a mile and a quarter will be too much for him."
Sort It Out, trainer Bob Bafftert's last chance to reach this year's Run for the Roses, moved with Coin Silver coming off the turn and loomed a threat but could not match the winner, gaining second by 3 1/2 lengths with Storm Surge finishing third. Forever Wild was fourth, 11 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
"He doesn't have a dynamic kick to him," said jockey Brice Blanc of Sort It Out. "He just makes one continuous run. I think the longer the races are, the better."
The final time was 1:45 3/5 on a sloppy track.
Coin Silver had won just once previously, breaking his maiden two starts back at Gulfstream Park March 5. A month later, he returned to run third as the 4-5 choice in a first-level allowance race, beaten by three lengths. Overall, Coin Silver has a 2-1-1 record in five starts. His winner's share of $201,500 is enough to qualify the darby bay colt for the Kentucky Derby.
Trainer John Servis wouldn't rule out a start for Rockport Harbor in the Kentucky Derby in two weeks in spite of the disappointing Lexington effort. "Rocky," who lost for the first time in five starts when he ran second in the Rebel (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park March 19 in his 2005 debut, has fought several obstacles on the Triple Crown trail.
With regular rider Stewart Elliott aboard, Rockport Harbor pressed the leaders from fourth while stuck on the outside but never threatened.
"He seems fine," Servis said. "Stewart said he just never got hold of the track the whole way and that happens. You haven't heard the last of him. He'll be back in all his glory."
Actxecutive, with Going Wild a head behind on his outside, set the early pace of :23 and :46 2/5 before backing up as Going Wild assumed the lead after six furlongs in 1:12. However, Going Wild tired in the stretch with Gary Stevens aloft, finishing fifth, four lengths in front of Rockport Harbor. Actxectuve finished last in the field of seven.
Coin Silver paid $28.80, $10, and $5.60. Sort It Out returned $6.20 and $4.20 while rounding out a $127.40 exacta. Storm Surge's show was $4.20.