With a last-chance grab at $325,000 in graded stakes earnings on the table, 10 3-year-olds have been entered in Saturday's Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland. Heading the list appears to be John Dillon's Like Now, winner of last month's Gotham Stakes (gr. II).
An overflow field of more than 20 appear to be awaiting the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) in two weeks, and entry into the classic is based on earnings in graded stakes. The Lexington is the last graded race other than the one-turn mile Withers Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct on April 29.
The Lexington, run at 1 1/16 miles, has had some success as a springboard to the Derby. Charismatic won the Lexington and then the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 1999. In 2002, Lexington winner Proud Citizen ran second to War Emblem in the Run for the Roses. Other winners of the Lexington include Hansel (1991) and Risen Star (1988), who both went on to win the Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Like Now, a homebred of Jules--Can't Bluff Me, by Pine Bluff, won the Gotham by a neck over Keyed Entry as a 36-1 shot March 18. Trained by Lexington native Kiaran McLaughlin, Like Now has front-running speed and will break from post 8.
Another New York import of major interest is Showing Up, a perfect two for two so far. Trained by Barclay Tagg, who trains 2003 Derby winner Funny Cide, Showing Up is owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson, who already have an unbeaten Derby contender in Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro. The son of Strategic Mission breaks from post 2 and will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez.
Local hope Chin High goes after his second Keeneland stakes of the meeting. A son of Smart Strike
, bred by Sun Valley Farm and owned by Ike Thrash, Chin High won the Central Bank Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT) April 7 at 68-1. Trainer Neil Pessin has already said, though, that even if Chin High wins, he is not under consideration for the Derby.
Coming all the way from the West Coast is the Washington-bred Fast Parade. Bred by Dr. Michael John Konecny and owned by James McIngvale, Fast Parade finished off his 2-year-old campaign with a 13-length score in the Captain Condo Stakes at Emerald Downs and has collared the Baldwin Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs at Santa Anita in his lone start this year.Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II), $325,000, Keeneland, April 22, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, approx. post 5:15 p.m. EDT
PP - Horse, Jockey
1 - Gone Prospecting, John Velazquez
2 - Showing Up, Cornelio Velasquez
3 - More Than Regal, Shaun Bridgmohan
4 - Hemingway's Key, Rafael Bejarano
5 - Bear Character, Rene Douglas
6 - Special Interest, Mark Guidry
7 - Chin High, Robby Albarado
8 - Like Now, Fernando Jara
9 - Fast Parade, Mick Ruis
10 - Greeley's Legacy, Javier Castellano