In recent years, the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III) has been thought of as a last opportunity for 3-year-olds to pad their graded earnings in hopes of having an opportunity to make the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
But with the purse reduced from $300,000 to $200,000 this year, the Lexington is more likely, for most, to serve as a possible prep for the Preakness (gr. I) in four weeks. That is, except for Silver Medallion
, who is the lone horse of the six entered that has a realistic chance to make the Derby starting gate.
Silver Medallion, who finished a disappointing fourth as the Santa Anita Derby favorite (gr. I), tops the April 23 Lexington, which headlines Keeneland’s 10-race Saturday card. The Lexington was downgraded from a grade II to a grade III this year. Post time for the Polytrack affair is slated for 5:20 p.m. EDT.
Grade I winner Jaycito
, who probably would have been the morning-line favorite for the Lexington, is still suffering from a bruised foot and was not entered. Despite having only one start in 2011, trainer Bob Baffert said he is still possible for the Derby and will ship to Churchill Downs next week.
Silver Medallion is still very much in the mix for the Derby. The son of Badge of Silver has $184,334 of graded earnings, and even a second-place finish in the Lexington would keep him on the Derby bubble. Of course, the bay colt is plenty capable of winning the 1 1/16-mile Lexington. He was in a perfect stalking position in the April 9 Santa Anita Derby and just off the leaders when he turned for home before weakening late.
Silver Medallion entered the Santa Anita Derby off consecutive wins—the Dec. 31 Eddie Logan Stakes on turf and Feb. 12 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) on the Golden Gate Fields Tapeta. After the latter, a majority interest in the colt was privately purchased by Steven Marshall’s Black Rob Stables.
Overall, Silver Medallion is 3-1-0 from seven starts. In his only start at Keeneland, he was seventh in the Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) last October. Silver Medallion will get a rider switch to Javier Castellano, who takes over for Garrett Gomez. They will break from post 2.
None of the remaining five Lexington entrants have any significant graded earnings. Ken McPeek, trainer of Casper's Touch
, said he will point his colt to the May 21 Preakness if he runs well. Casper’s Touch rebounded from his disappointing seventh-place finish in the Feb. 26 Fountain of Youth (gr. II) with a convicning three-length score in an April 8 allowance contest at Keeneland.
Casper’s Touch, owned by McPeek’s Magdalena Racing, is 2-1-1 from six lifetime starts. Alan Garcia will keep the mount.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong (in the Fountain of Youth),” McPeek said. “He deserves another opportunity. He ran a great race here; we expected that. We kind of used it as a workout race.
“Let’s let him get through (the Lexington), but if he runs well we’ll more than likely look at the Preakness.”
Also entering off of wins are Courtlandt Farms’ Prime Cut
and Gary Piper’s Hurricane Lake
—both of them making their stakes debuts. Prime Cut has been based at Fair Grounds with trainer Neil Howard, where he has hit the board in three optional clamiers this season, including a narrow win on March 26. This will be the first start on a synthetic surface for the son of Bernstein
Hurricane Lake is based at Golden Gate for trainer Jeff Bonde. He has won two straight races there and has been in the money in all four starts this season.
Completing the lineup is Taptowne
, who was fifth in Turfway Park’s Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) March 26, and Derby Kitten
, runner-up in the Alligator Alley Stakes three weeks ago on the Gulfstream Park turf.
$200,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. III, Race 9, 5:20 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Derby Kitten (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, M J Maker
2. Silver Medallion (KY), J Castellano, 121, S M Asmussen
3. Prime Cut (KY), E S Prado, 117, N J Howard
4. Hurricane Lake (KY), C H Borel, 119, J Bonde
5. Taptowne (KY), C J Lanerie, 117, W D Mogge
6. Casper's Touch (KY), A Garcia, 117, K G McPeek