Keeneland’s Grade 3 $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes is the last chance for many Kentucky Derby hopefuls to earn the graded stakes needed to make the Derby’s limited field. The Kentucky Derby’s 20-horse field, plus four also eligibles, is limited to horses with the most graded stakes earnings. Currently, the magic number is just over $184,700.
The $120,000 to the winner of the Coolmore Lexington may be enough to move several of Saturday’s runners into contention. Whether the connections of these horses are currently considering the Derby or still on the fence, a win that puts their horse onto the entry list will certainly have them re-evaluating the situation. Horses with a win-and-you’re-in possibility are Castaway, Morgan’s Guerrilla, Golden Ticket, and News Pending.
Bob Baffert’s Castaway headlines the eleven-horse field at a morning line of 3-1. Although it took Castaway six attempts to do it, when this son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, finally broke his maiden in a 1 1/16 mile race at Santa Anita, he earned a 102 Brisnet speed figure. This win was impressive enough that Baffert entered him in the one mile Grade 3 Southwest Stakes. Castaway impressively won by nearly four lengths and looked like he was on the road to the Derby. However, in his next Derby prep, the Grade 3 Sunland Derby, he faded halfway through the race and finished next to last. Maybe he bounced and that race should be tossed or maybe he’s regressed to his paltry form before breaking his maiden.
Morgan’s Guerrilla finished second to Done Talking in the Illinois Derby only two weeks ago. Owned in part by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway whose Stately Victor finished 8th in the 2010 Kentucky Derby, there is no doubt the connections of Morgan's Guerrilla are trying to get back to the Derby. Morgan’s Guerrilla is a lightly raced son of Ghostzapper and trained by Mike Maker. He has finished first or second in three lifetime starts. He appears to be an improving colt whose pedigree and early running style should help on the Keeneland Polytrack. He also picks up Keeneland’s leading rider Julien Leparoux.