We're Firing Down on Fire Slam in the Coolmore Lexington

By Dick Downey

This race could be renamed the Coolmore Lexington Bettors' Paradise Stakes, with 14 entered and the morning line favorite at 4-1.

Our selection to win is FIRE SLAM. He was ridden way too fast too early (:22 3/5, :45 2/5) by Shane Sellers in the Grade II Louisiana Derby. That race found him in post 10 of 11 starters. Sellers apparently felt he had to get the son of Grand Slam out quickly and into position, but the strategy failed miserably, leading to his only off-the-board finish. The colt gets a positive jockey switch to Pat Day, who should be able to handle him perfectly at Keeneland. This versatile type has won from off the pace and from up close. It cannot hurt that he broke his maiden at Keeneland in his first start for trainer David Carroll, and we like the Fair Grounds-to-Keeneland move here.

We like the front-running BOOMZEBOOM to get the second spot. Although not the lone early speed, he looks the best of those types, having defeated Minister Eric, who demolished an allowance field at Keeneland Wednesday, by a half-length in his last start. This is third start off the December layoff, and trainer Vladimir Cerin has shipped him here from Santa Anita. The knock on him is that this is his first stakes start after having just broken his maiden BY 8 1/2 lengths two back; the flip side of the coin is that he might be getting better and better. We also like the fact that the trainer has no Kentucky Derby aspirations for him. For now, this race is his Kentucky Derby.

Although we weren't impressed with SONG OF THE SWORD in the 1 1/8 mile, Grade II Illinois Derby--he was staggering down the stretch even while earning a 103 Beyer--he looks good enough to us to be competitive in this 1 1/16 mile race. He's won three of four starts with a second in the aforementioned Illinois Derby.

For our fourth pick, take a look at SUAVE. He looks to improve off that four-wide trip in the Illinois Derby, where he finished third, five lengths behind winner Pollard's Vision. And we cannot forget the fact that his time in that allowance two back was faster than that of the winner of the Grade I Florida Derby that same day.

Downey's Picks: