The road to the Kentucky Derby is coming to an end. Owners and trainers are scrambling to find enough graded stakes earnings to earn a shot to compete for the famous blanket of roses. With three prep races left, it appears the Coolmore Lexington Stakes will be the last opportunity for one horse to possibly make the field of 20 on derby day.
Silver Medallion headlines a six horse field in the Lexington on Saturday. The Grade 3 race has been downgraded from $300,000 to $200,000 and it is a must win for Silver Medallion if he is earn to his spot in the derby. The winner’s share is $120,000 which would secure a spot, but if he runs 2nd, the payday will only be$40,000; leaving him behind Santiva and Watch Me Go in the standings.
The field also took a hit with the defection of the Bob Baffert trained Jaycito. Jaycito was scratched from the April 9th Santa Anita Derby with a bruised foot. Baffert had planned on shipping him to Kentucky for one final tune-up but to his chagrin, the horse does not appear ready to run. However, Baffert has indicated that Jaycito may still run in the derby with only one prep race to boot.
Charismatic stormed onto the derby trail in 1999 with an impressive victory in the Lexington Stakes. He then went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He finished 3rd in the Belmont in one of the more memorable story lines as the late Chris Antley cradled his leg in an attempt to save his horse from being euthanized. His efforts were rewarded and Charismatic was retired to stud.
$200,000 Coolmore Lexington (gr. III, Race 9, 5:20 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Derby Kitten (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, M J Maker 4-1
2. Silver Medallion (KY), J Castellano, 121, S M Asmussen 8-5
3. Prime Cut (KY), E S Prado, 117, N J Howard 7-2
4. Hurricane Lake (KY), C H Borel, 119, J Bonde 6-1
5. Taptowne (KY), C J Lanerie, 117, W D Mogge 15-1
6. Casper’s Touch (KY), A Garcia, 117, K G McPeek 3-1
Silver Medallion returns to the synthetic surfaces after a disappointing 4th place finish in the Santa Anita Derby. I expect him to rebound after this effort and give trainer Steve Asmussen his second derby starter along with Nehro. However, after witnessing Brilliant Speed’s big upset last week over the same track, it would not be a shocking surprise to see a longshot jump up and steal the victory.
Staying away from the win bets and playing exactas: 2,4 2, 5 2,3
Also in the mix this weekend is the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes from Aqueduct. Familiar names are entered, but it appears that these horses are more likely pointing toward the Preakness Stakes if they manage to run big this weekend. Asmussen has a pair of live ones with Astrology and Justin Phillip. They will be taking on Rattlesnake Bridge, 2nd to Uncle Mo in the Timely Writer Stakes and Cal Nation out of Todd Pletcher’s barn.
$150,000 Jerome Stakes (gr. II), 3-Year-Olds, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Astrology (KY), M E Smith, 120, S M Asmussen 5-2
2. Cal Nation (KY), J R Velazquez, 116, T A Pletcher 2-1
3. Gallant Dreams (KY), C H Velasquez, 116, T Albertrani 15-1
4. Isn’t He Perfect (KY), C Hill, 116, D Shivmangal 20-1
5. Rattlesnake Bridge (KY), J Lezcano, 116, K P McLaughlin 6-1
6. Starship Caesar (FL), J Valdivia Jr., 116, B Parboo 30-1
7. Justin Phillip (KY), R A Dominguez, 116, S M Asmussen 5-1
8. Adios Charlie (FL), R Maragh, 116, S M Hough 5-1
Astrology and Asmussen had plenty of time to prepare for the derby, but they just couldn’t piece it together completely. If this horse runs big, he’ll be fresh headed into Maryland. And if Mike Smith keeps the mount, he could be even more dangerous. I’ll take an Asmussen double this weekend and bet $10 across the board on Astrology.
Good luck to all of the horses, trainers, jockeys, and owners this weekend. If their names do not appear in the program on derby day, we hope to see them competing this spring, possibly in the Preakness or Belmont or other high stakes races.
Written by Big Brink