The Brock Talk

Friday, April 16, 2010

Derby Doubtfuls Don't Tell Whole Story In Lexington Stakes

The $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes may technically be on the road to the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands, but only one horse, Connemera, has enough graded earnings to immediately qualify for the Run for the Roses with a victory. History further tells us that the Lexington Stakes has not been a prominent nor popular stop for trainers trying to win the Kentucky Derby as only Charismatic (photo) in 1999 has been able to win both races since the 1973 renewal of the Lexington.

That may be more a function of timing than quality, when making the Lexington-Kentucky Derby analysis as many winners have gone on to victories in other major 3-year-old races later in the year.

Wise Times, winner of the 1986 Lexington, won three grade 1 races that summer including the Haskell Invitational, the Travers and the Super Derby. Two years later, Lexington winner Risen Star won two-thirds of the Triple Crown by taking the Preakness (gr. 1) and Belmont Stakes (gr. 1). In 1991 Hansel accomplished the same Lexington-Preakness-Belmont triple after finishing eighth as the favorite in the Derby. Touch Gold won the 1997 Lexington, skipped the Derby, finished fourth in the Preakness then robbed Silver Charm of the Triple Crown by running him down in the final furlong to win the Belmont.

So there is plenty cause to show interest in Saturday's race - not the least of which is that it may be the most attractive wagering 3-year-old race of the year up to this point with a 4-1 favorite in Uptowncharlybrown.

Although not the heavy betting favorite, Uptowncharlybrown will have plenty of sentimental support as his trainer, the popular Alan Seewald, died unexpectedly in his sleep Monday night at the age of 62. Seewald's assistant trainer, Linda White has taken the training duties and will saddle Uptowncharlybrown Saturday.

After winning the $53,000 Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in January, Uptowncharlybrown finished third in the grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes behind probable Derby starter Rule before a troubled fifth-place finish in the grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby behind the winner Odysseus. Although the Tampa Bay competition may not be on par with other Kentucky Derby preparation locales, it certainly appears to provide a sufficient base against the Lextington field.

Uptwoncharlybrown, a son of Limehouse, will be making his first start on an artificial surface Saturday which is certainly a concern. However, a quick look at the young stallion record of Limehouse shows his two stakes winners last year both won over Poly-Track. House of Grace won the JP Morgan Chase Jassamine at Keeneland and Oldredlgetcha won the Victoria Stakes at Woodbine.

Connemera will need some improvement in his game to punch a ticket to Louisville, despite his victory in the grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in February and a third in the grade 2 Lane's End at Turfway. Although both races occurred on artificial tracks, the Beyer numbers indicate Connemera will have to run several lengths faster to get the win Saturday.

California invaders have been successful throughout the midwest this year which flags Kettle River and Distorted Dave as contenders.

At 5-1 morning line odds, I'm not sure Kettle River brings the necessary value for financial support, but certainly he looks to have the talent. His closing running style was severely compromised by a slow pace in the March Sham Stakes, as did some traffic problems as he began to move in the far turn.

Kettle River's 90 Beyer in a January 6 allowance race win at Santa Anita makes him one of only three Lexington starters to reach that level joining Uptowncharlybrown's 91 in the Sam Davis and an impressive 90 Beyer by Bushwacked against maidens two weeks ago at Keeneland.

Distorted Dave trainer John Sadler has won two major Derby preps this year with Sidney's Candy taking the Santa Anita Derby (gr. 1) and Line of David upsetting the Arkansas Derby (gr. 1) two weeks ago. Sadler will be calling on the upset gods again if Distorted Dave is to step up from his win last race against optional claimers.

So while we may not be looking for the next Kentucky Derby winner Saturday at Keeneland, it's a race likely to impact the Triple Crown later on.


IanLozada said...

Dumb question I don't have time to look up: have any Blue Grass or Lexington Stakes winners since the Polytrack renovation won another stakes race?

Brock Sheridan said...

I could not find stakes wins after the Blue Grass for winners Dominican ('07), Monba ('08) and General Quarters ('09.

Same for Lexington winners Slew's Tizzy ('07), Behindatthebar ('08) and Advice ('09).

For disclosure, I didn't buy the lifetime PPs for any of these horses, just went through some research. So I may have missed a stakes win.

It would have been no surprise if none of them had won another stake on dirt... but no stakes at all was a surprise.

Anonymous said...

Connemara looks like the best on paper to me but even if he wins Todd Pletcher said he might now be entered in the Kentucky Derby. I like Krypton's chances best for an upset here.

Anonymous said...

Connemara looks like the best on paper to me but even if he wins Todd Pletcher said he might not be entered in the Kentucky Derby. I like Krypton's chances best for an upset here.

Brock Sheridan said...

That's what is so nice about this race. One can make a good case for nearly every horse in the race.

I think I'm going to take the California/trip angle and bet Kettle River hoping he can make the transition from Cal's ProRide to Keeneland's polytrack. I'm also hoping he goes above 5-1.

If not, I think Kryton could be the bet with that nice win at Kee last start and the solid base of distance races attained this winter at GP.

Fun, fun, race to handicap.

John said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this race. I'd like to see Jackson Bend get in the Big Dance, and I presume this hinges on who wins the Lexington Stakes today. All JB can do is watch and let his fate unfold before him. The little horse is right on the bubble. It would also be nice if Uptowncharleybrown wins for his late trainer.

To go back in time a bit, Risen Star was certainly good enough to win the '88 Kentucky Derby, but had a very wide trip, as you know.