The Lexington Stakes is the last realistic Derby prep left on the Trail, and it is truly a one-shot type of race. Due to the astronomically high amount of graded earnings needed to get into the starting gate May 1, only one horse has a realistic chance to get in: Connemara. He has already accumulated just enough earnings that a win, and only a win, will earn him a spot. No one else, even with a win, will have enough earnings to get in. The highest any of the other could get is 24th. So can Connemara "win & get in"? Here is the field:
#1 Krypton 6-1
#2 Uptowncharlybrown 4-1
#3 Distorted Dave 10-1
#4 Bushwhacked 12-1
#5 Call Shot 10-1
#6 Prince Will I Am 30-1
#7 Lonesome Street 12-1
#8 Exhi 8-1
#9 Heavenville 12-1
#10 Connemara 5-1
#11 Kettle River 5-1
#12 Chief Counsel 15-1
The first thing i have to say is that the morning line on this race is suspect. Having Connemara, who is the only graded stakes winner in the field, as the 5-1 third choice is not the issue though. Having Kettle River at 5-1 is the head scratcher The buzz surrounding Krypton & Bushwhacked, plus the more recent performances of Exhi has led me to believe that all of these horses should be lower on the morning line than Kettle River.
Which is just what i want to see on the pick. There is a jockey upgrade from Brice Blanc to Javier Castellano. He has been working steadily for this race after deciding not to come back in three weeks for the Lane's End following his poor performance in the Sham. His race in the Sham is a toss out to me as his training was compromised due to an illness causing him to miss a work.
There is a good amount of pace in this race. Exhi and Heavenville will be fighting for the lead, with Krypton, Chief Counsel, Bushwhacked, Call Shot. Lonesome Street and Uptowncharlybrown all fighting for position right behind. Kettle River will be tracking back in 7th or 8th, with only Connemara, Prince Will I Am and Distorted Dave waiting with him to pounce in the stretch. The pace will be faster than expected, which will compromise the pressers.
Turning into the stretch, as some of the speed starts to back up, Kettle River will already be in his move, getting the jump on Connemara. He will start to wear down Krypton, Heavenville and Bushwhacked, who are my choices to survive being too close to the pace. (Heavenville should move up off his last win and a return to poly, but the pace scenario precludes him for being the top pick.) As they hit the wire at the 1/16th pole, Kettle River will just hold on from a late charge from Connemara, winning in a solid 1:42:08. Three-way photo for third between Krypton, Bushwhacked and Heavenville.
#11 Kettle River
#1 Krypton / #4 Bushwhacked / #9 Heavenville
A few other quick and dirty picks for some of the other stakes today:
Giant's Causeway (Keeneland Race 8): Canadian Ballet
Santa Barbara (Santa Anita Race 6): General Consensus
San Simeon (Santa Anita Race 9): Victor's Cry
Sixty Sails (Hawthorne Race 8): Life at Ten