Texcess, winner of last December's $1-million Boyd Gaming's Delta Jackpot Stakes will be sent after his second big pot Saturday in the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park. Trainer Paul Aquirre said the Cal-bred gelding is "100% now" after a pair of losses this year and is primed for a big effort in the nine-furlong Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep at Turfway Park.
"I'm hoping to see a one, two finish," Aquirre said during a Tuesday teleconference. "Anything less than first or second is below our expectations."
The Triple Crown trail makes its annual stop at the northern Kentucky track Saturday and will have a national audience. ESPN will show the Lane's End live, along with the 1 1/16-mile Rushaway Stakes from Turfway with a program that will run from 4:30-5:30 p.m. EST.
Texcess, a two-time stakes winner and earner of $763,427, figures to be a major player in the Lane's End field that will likely have a cast of at least eight that also includes graded winner Spanish Chestnut and local stakes winner Magna Graduate.
A win, which would include $300,000 in graded earnings, would boost the son of In Excess
' stock in moving forward to the May 7 Run for the Roses. He enters the spring of his 3-year-old season with only $18,000 in graded earnings, the yardstick by which to make ones way into the Derby field.
Prior to leaving his Southern California base, Texcess worked a half-mile in :46 3/5 March 21, the third best of 43 works that day at the distance at Hollywood Park. He is currently bedded down in the stakes barn at Turfway.
The 48-year-old Aquirre, who co-owns the gelding with Las Vegas nightclub owner Omar Aldabbagh, will be sending out his first Lane's End starter. West Coast-based shippers have run well in the Lane's End, with Globalize winning the 2000 version and Event of the Year winning in 1998 for Golden Eagle Farm. Both horses were trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.
Since his Jackpot success on Dec. 4 at Delta Downs, Texcess has run third behind Spanish Chestnut and Iced Out in the San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita and second in the San Mateo Mile Stakes at Bay Meadows on Feb. 12. Both races were at a mile.
"After the Delta race, my partner wanted to race him but I didn't have him where I wanted him," Aquirre said. "He's 100% now."
Aquirre blames the Bay Meadows effort, in which he was the 3-5 favorite, not on the track but the conditions at the Northern California track. At Bay Meadows, the stabling area is in the infield and the trainer said his gelding was bothered by the noise.
Aquirre has also enlisted veteran jockey Rene Douglas to work with the horse in the mornings, which has helped in his training. Douglas, who rode Texcess to victory in the California Cup Juvenile last October, will also be making his Lane's End debut on Saturday.
"He's really turned around since Rene starting riding him in the mornings," Aquirre said. "Rene has done a tremendous job of getting him to settle, then finish fast."
His last three works, that include a bullet six-furlongs in 1:12 4/5 March 13 and a bullet five-furlong move in 1:00 2/5 March 6, have also come without blinkers. He will race without the blinkers in the Lane's End.
"We cut them back to 'cheaters' for the San Rafael, but he still didn't want to go early," Aquirre said, "and he ran off in the race at Bay Meadows."
Bred in California by Ron Gomez, Texcess is out of the Regal Classic
mare Danish Alamode. He sports a stellar 3-2-1 slate from six career starts, but hasn't gotten much ink as a Triple Crown trail threat.
"He's a Cal-bred and he's by In Excess, and some think distance might be a problem," Aquirre said. "People have forgotten about him off his last two races."
In Excess, a who stands at Vessels Stallion Farm near Bonsall, Calif., is the sire of 38 stakes winners including 1998 Kentucky Derby favorite and third-place finisher Indian Charlie
, European classic winner Musical Chimes, and this year's El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) winner Uncle Denny.
A big effort in the Lane's End would put Texcess right back in the mix.