Howard's Hidden Truth No Secret in Lexington

(from Belmont Park report)
Trainer Neil Howard rated his stock, sized up his competition and decided it was in his best interests to bypass Saratoga's 2002 racing season. The old Spa often features the world's best Thoroughbred racing. Howard didn't want to go there with an empty wagon.

Instead, Howard took eight horses to Arlington Park

Fortunately, the depth and quality of Howard's stable has improved dramatically from where it was a year ago. His ace is of course, Mineshaft, who was superb in victory in the July 5 Suburban Handicap (gr. I) and is arguably the nation's top handicap horse. Howard plans on bringing Mineshaft and about a dozen others with him to Saratoga in late July. The 36-day meeting begins July 23.

Before racing shifts north to Saratoga, Howard has some business to take care of at Belmont Park. On Sunday, Howard saddles Hidden Truth, a colt possessing the potential to be one of the country's leading 3-year-old turf horses by summer's end, in the $150,000 Lexington Stakes (gr. IIIT).

Run at 1 1/4 mile over the Inner Turf Course, the Lexington drew an evenly matched field of seven sophomores. Howard won this race in 1998 with Parade Ground for Hidden Truth's owner, William Farish.

Hidden Truth has won two of three starts on turf. In April, he won what might have been the toughest 3-year-old turf allowance race run in the country this year when beating out Stroll, Bat Mobile, Exclusive Gentleman and five others at Keeneland. All three of the aforementioned horses returned to win their next starts. Stroll also won Monmouth Park's Lamplighter in convincing fashion last Saturday.

"I think his finishing kick has impressed me the most," said Howard from his Churchill Downs base this morning. "He's a strong finisher. That's why I'm encouraged he'll go 10 furlongs."

Hidden Truth, and all but two of his Lexington rivals will be trying the 1 ΒΌ-mile distance for the first time on Sunday. In addition to his finishing punch, Hidden Truth might get some assistance in staying the 10-furlong trip from his dam, Sneaky Quiet. Back in 1995, Howard trained Sneaky Quiet to a victory in the Florida Oaks and a third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks. During her three-year career, Sneaky Quiet won nearly $300,000 in route races. Hidden Truth is her second foal to race.

"Aside from the horses that ran in the Triple Crown, I think everyone's in the same boat when it comes to a mile and a quarter, but he finishes up like the added ground won't bother him," Howard said. "He rates good, he can sit outside of horses and away from trouble. He should be coming at them late."

Hidden Truth gets the services of jockey Robby Albarado, who won last Saturday's Suburban aboard Mineshaft.

Sheikh Maktoum's Sharp Impact was one of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's 17 winners at the meet through Thursday. A colt by Siphon, he makes both his turf and stakes debut in the Lexington for a barn that has made all the right moves at Belmont this spring.

Sharp Impact enters the Lexington on the heels of a gate-to-wire victory in a second-level allowance here on June 8. That race was originally scheduled for the turf, but was washed to the sloppy main track.

"He's obviously got good dirt form, but we've wanted to run him on the grass," McLaughlin said. "All of the Siphon's offspring seem to move up on turf. The biggest question mark with him is the distance. I don't know how far he wants to go."

Over the last eight weeks, McLaughlin has unleashed a number of Dubai imports and most of them have run lights out in their U.S. debuts.

Jockey Richard Migliore has the mount on Sharp Impact.

Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel shoots for his ninth graded stakes win of the Belmont meet with Urban King. An Irish-bred son of Desert King, Urban King has been entered and scratched out of a number of off-the-turf stakes races this spring including the Jersey Derby, Hill Prince and Nick Shuk Memorial.

Urban King is unraced since finishing third in Santa Anita's La Puente in April but has been staying active, breezing every seven days or so here at Belmont Park. The La Puente was his United States debut.

Jockey Edgar Prado will ride Urban King, who makes his first start beyond eight furlongs in the Lexington.

$150,000 Lexington Stakes (gr. IIIT), 3-year-olds, 1 1/4 mile on turf
PP . Horse, Trainer, Jockey, Wgt.
1. Urban King, Bobby Frankel, Edgar Prado, 114
2. Coalition, Leo O' Brien, Mike Luzzi, 114
3. Vettriano, John Morrison, Jean-Luc Samyn, 114
4. Hidden Truth, Neil Howard, Robby Albarado, 118
5. Deputy Lad, Ken McPeek, Aaron Gryder, 114
6. Supervisor, Linda Rice, Jose Santos, 114
7. Sharp Impact, Kiaran McLaughlin, Richard Migliore, 114