There is no doubt in the mind of Frank Alexander that Lime Rickey is a stakes-caliber type of horse. One of these days, perhaps in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) on June 13, the son of Lemon Drop Kid will prove it, Alexander said. All he needs is a little bit of racing luck.
“He’s talented and has been very consistent. He tries real hard every time,” said Alexander, Lime Rickey’s trainer. “If you look back at his past performances, he’s just missed several times and has had traffic problems in a lot of races. In turf racing, sometimes the best horse doesn’t always win. It’s about getting the right trip.”
Alexander has secured top rider Julien Leparoux in hopes of getting that elusive “right trip” in the 1 3/16 mile Turf Cup, the feature on the Colonial Downs card, which also includes the $150,000 All Along Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT). The Turf Cup kicks off the $5 million-plus Jacobs Investments Grand Slam of Grass Series for 3-year-old turf horses. Any who horse that sweeps all four legs, which also includes the July 18 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT), Aug. 8 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT, Arlington Park) and Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT, Santa Anita), will collect a combined $5 million in purse and bonus monies.
Leparoux, the leading money earner among North American riders in 2009, will ride Lime Rickey for the first time in the test for 3-year-olds.
“Javier Castellano rode him well in the last two, but he has a commitment in New York that day,” said Alexander. “And Johnny Velazquez, who has also ridden him before, is in England (at Royal Ascot). So I took a shot and called Julien, and he took the mount. He’s a patient rider and that’s what we need.”
Bred in Kentucky by Dinwiddie Farm and owned by Dogwood Stable, Lime Rickey took five tries to break his maiden as a 2-year-old last year, but even then Alexander says he was unlucky in a couple of those. As an example, he points to his third maiden try on the grass at Saratoga.
“He was boxed in on the turn and still only lost by a length to a pretty good horse – Pioneerof the Nile,” Alexander said.
Lime Rickey eventually broke his maiden and was sent into stakes company this season, where he finished runner-up three straight times at Gulfstream Park, including the Jan. 17 Dania Beach when he was steadied on the first turn and the Feb. 14 Hallandale Beach when he was boxed in approaching the far turn. In the March 14 Palm Beach (gr. IIIT), he lost by only a length.
After a failed try in his dirt debut in the Wood Memorial (gr. I), Alexander sent Lime Rickey back to the grass on May 14 at Belmont. He won a one-mile allowance contest there, which was supposed to set him up for a try in the June 5 Hill Prince (gr. IIIT). But the race was taken off turf because of rain and he was scratched.
Alexander is hoping Lime Rickey’s time is finally here.
“He’s sitting on go, all he needs is some luck. I think he has matured and is still getting better,” Alexander said. “Like good whisky and cheese, I also think he’ll improve with age.”
An earner of $163,707 from 11 starts, Lime Rickey (7-2) drew post 10 for the Turf Cup.
Mike House’s Battle of Hastings is the lone stakes winner in the field of 10 and was installed as the 2-1 favorite as a result. The Royal Applause gelding, who raced as a 2-year-old in England, won the March 1 Baldwin (gr. IIIT) and April 11 La Puente Stakes on the Santa Anita turf before finishing runner-up in the American Turf (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs May 1. Jockey Tyler Baze will ride English-bred Battle of Hastings for trainer Jeff Mullins.
Todd Pletcher, winner of the 2005 Turf Cup with English Channel, will saddle a pair of starters, both making their first starts on turf. Starlight Partners’ Take the Points (3-1) comes out of the May 16 Preakness (gr. I), where he finished last. Fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), the son of Even the Score, who will race with blinkers off, posted his lone win this season Jan. 31 in allowance company at Gulfstream. Champion rider Garrett Gomez, winner of the Virginia Derby in two of the last three years, will be in the irons.
Pletcher’s other charge is WinStar Farm’s Al Khali, who was sixth in the Peter Pan (gr. II) last out and eighth in the Illinois Derby (gr. II) prior to that. The Medaglia d'Oro ridgling won an allowance race in his American debut this March at Gulfstream. Kent Desormeaux will have the mount.
Post time for the Turf Cup is set for 6:16 p.m. EDT.
In the All Along Stakes, for fillies and mares going nine furlongs on the lawn, Augustin Stable’s Winter View shares top weight of 124 pounds with Flying Zee Stable’s I Lost My Choo, who won the Virginia Oaks (gr. IIIT) over the same course a year ago.
Winter View, trained by Jonathan Sheppard and to be ridden by Edgar Prado, enters off a pair of 12-furlong scores on Keeneland’s turf, including the April 24 Bewitch (gr. IIIT), which was his stakes debut. A 5-year-old daughter of Thunder Gulch, Winter View is 4-1-3 from 20 starts, 11 of which came in France.
I Lost My Choo, a 4-year-old Western Expression filly, won the Virginia Oaks by 1 1/2 lengths last summer and also scored in the Honey Fox (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream in March for trainer Phil Serpe. The New York-bred enters off a win in the restricted Mount Vernon Stakes May 17 at Belmont. Jose Lezcano will ride.
A full field of 12 was entered for the All Along, which is scheduled for a 5:21 p.m. post time.