Friday, April 22, 2011

Coolmore Lexington Stakes Last Call for Derby Earnings

KeenelandThe Coolmore Lexington Stakes is the last ditch effort to earn graded stakes earnings for those desperate to enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate in two weeks. In 1999 Charismatic used the Lexington Stakes as a springboard to a Derby win and in 2002 Proud Citizen won the Lexington and placed in the Derby. Since Keeneland switched to Polytrack none of the contenders have finished in the money in the Kentucky Derby.

The probable favorite and only horse in the Lexington field that will have enough earnings to enter the Kentucky Derby should he win is SILVER MEDALLION . He is on the cusp of the Kentucky Derby earnings list. Silver Medallion beat a so-so group in the El Camino Real over Tapita and was victorious in the Eddie Logan over turf. He failed his test over the dirt, finishing a weakening fourth, 3 ½ lengths behind Midnight Interlude. Silver Medallion is the best representative of his second crop sire Badge of Silver.

DERBY KITTEN started putting it together when he won his maiden in January and placed in two subsequent starts, all over the turf. Derby Kitten is a full brother to the listed stakes winner William’s Kitten, who was unplaced in two starts over synthetics (Polytrack and Pro-Ride), but their sire Kitten’s Joy has a number of winners over the surface. The Maker barn is 29% with the turf to Poly angle.

PRIME CUT has shown improvement in every race this year, but this is his first attempt over Polytrack. His sire is known for producing synthetic track runners and Prime Cut’s damsire Stravinsky’s daughters’ offspring win over synthetic surfaces about 35% of the time. Prime Cut’s unraced dam Life Happened is a half sister to Maryland’s 2001 Champion Sprinter, Disco Rico. Prime Cut recorded a decent five furlong work over Keenland’s Polytrack so he should be good to go.

HURRICANE LAKE has been successful over allowance winners on Tapita. The Friends Lake gelding shows little blacktype in his distaff family and his dam won one of nine starts. The Bonde barn has a very good 26% win rate with stakes races, showing he knows how to place his horses.

TAPTOWNE wanted no part of 1 1/8 miles in the Vinery Spiral Stakes and wound up a very distant fifth, 12 lengths behind Animal Kingdom. The cut back in distance should suit Taptowne and he’s been working well at Turfway. He’s probably a cut below Silver Medallion but could grab a piece of it.

Caspers Touch Photo Reed PalmerCASPER'S TOUCH was rank and had a tough trip in the Fountain of Youth Stakes in February. He was given the month of March to collect himself and came back against a soft allowance field over the Keeneland Polytrack for an important confidence booster. His pedigree is filled with stamina influences and if he does well in the Lexington, look for him in the Preakness.


How the track is playing: this meet, the track is playing fair, however this week, the closers/late pace runners have won 69% of the 13 races held at 1 1/16 miles.

Unlike most of the Derby preps, the Lexington shapes up somewhat paceless. Silver Medallion and Prime Cut are the only ones who like to race close to or on the lead. It’s doubtful either one will gun for the lead and set swift fractions, but stranger things have happed this year.

SILVER MEDALLION is the class of the race and should be the easy winner. That’s what we said about Uncle Mo in the Wood Memorial, so anything can happen. There are a few horses who are starting to improve at the right time and could pull an upset. CASPER’S TOUCH was shoved into the Fountain of Youth off of a troubled allowance race. The colt likely wasn’t mentally ready and was rank in the stakes race, resulting in the worst finishing of his career. After getting some time off and a confidence building allowance race, CASPER’S TOUCH should be back on track and ready to go. PRIME CUT has been slowly improving and should he get the lead, PRIME CUT could set slow fractions and wire the field. This is a small field, so it’s hard to find a decent longshot. TAPTOWNE was a cut below in the Vinery Spiral, but there are no world beaters here. The pretty gray colt has been in the money in most of his races and he could do the same here.




#5 TAPTOWNE – longshot pick