2019 Lexington Stakes Expert Picks with Odds and Betting Predictions
The Lexington Stakes is not a major Kentucky Derby prep race, but it has had its moments of intense relevance. 1988 winner Risen Star and 1991 winner Hansel went on to win both the Preakness and the Belmont. Touch Gold won this race in 1997 and then became an enemy to many - including me - when he ended Silver Charm's Triple Crown bid by winning the Belmont. Two years later, Charismatic used the Lexington as a springboard to his own Triple Crown bid, which ended when he was injured in the stretch of the Belmont. And 2006 winner Showing Up ran in the Derby, finishing sixth. But as the structure of the race to the Derby has changed, the Lexington has been done no favors. It's late on the schedule, and it offers only 20 points to the winner - the major prep races offer 100, and this year it is going to take about 40 points to make the field. This race doesn't offer enough to matter in most cases, and the field often reflects it.
But it can matter when things come together. Last year, for the first time in a dozen years, the winner of this race headed down the road from Lexington to Louisville for the Derby. My Boy Jack won this race, and then was bizarrely bet down to the second choice in the Derby before finishing fifth. And this year the race again has a chance to be relevant, with two horses realistically looking at the Derby with a win here and a couple more likely looking towards the Preakness if they win here. Here are the highlights of the field:
Anothertwistafate: This colt personally sits 23rd in the Derby points standings with 30 points, and only the top 18 or 19 are going to get in. A win here, and the 20 points that go with it, will get him in for sure, and the eight points for second could put him on the bubble. This was a northern-California based runner who topped out there by winning the El Camino Real Derby. Next up was the Sunland Derby in New Mexico. It set up as a three-horse race, and he wound up second as the third betting choice. It was the kind of loss that can haunt connections, as he missed by just a short neck. This horse has very notable pedigree. He is a member of the last crop of Scat Daddy, the sire who died far too young, but not before he gave us Triple Crown winner Justify. That's a big boost for this colt. Javier Castellano is aboard again for this horse, which is a lot of rider for a horse in this spot. Trainer Blaine Wright isn't a top-caliber guy, and this horse still has a lot to prove, but in this spot he is certainly one to watch - and I'm a big sucker for the Scat Daddy connection.
Sueno: This colt has 28 points, so a win would be good enough here. But this horse has been a master at being not quite good enough in big races, so he needs to break that trend. In January he was second in the Sham at Santa Anita. Then he was second in the Southwest Stakes in Arkansas - well ahead of Cutting Humor, who beat Anothertwistafate in the Sunland. Then, because the horse clearly likes to travel, he was off to New Orleans for the Louisiana Derby, where he finished third. This colt is trained by Keith Desormeaux, who also won this race last year with My Boy Jack. That experience helps. And this field is perhaps not as strong as what he has seen. But I'm not convinced. I have a test I use in a lot of smaller Derby preps - do I care about seeing this horse in the Derby? I'd much rather see the son of Scat Daddy in the race, so I'll pass on this horse.
Harvey Wallbanger: This horse shocked us all at the beginning of February, winning the Holy Bull at Gulfstream at 30/1. The pace early on was fast enough that he was able to close from the clouds for the win. It was a dream trip. But he wasn't nearly so lucky next time out. In the Florida Derby, just two weeks ago, the pace was glacial, and a deep closer like him had no chance. He wound up eighth. He has only 10 Derby points right now, so even a win here likely won't be enough. It's tough to figure out why he is here exactly, but maybe the Preakness is the goal.
Knicks Go: This horse won the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity here at Keeneland last October, and then was a solid second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill. It was a heck of a fall, and he faced huge expectations going forward. And man, has he disappointed anyone who believed in him. He was 11th in the Kentucky Jockey Club three weeks after the Juvenile. After a break, he was fifth in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay in February. And then he was seventh in the Gotham at Aqueduct in March. He feels like a horse that needs a break and a new approach. But he's not getting that.
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