Florence, KY (Sports Network) - Saturday's $500,000 Lane's End Stakes, Turfway Park's signature race for three-year-olds, will have 10 Kentucky Derby hopefuls break from the starting gate. The 1 1/8-mile event comes five weeks before the Run for the Roses.
Leading the field are a pair of colts trained by Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher. Pletcher will have 9-5 favorite Connemara leave from the inside post and Doubles Partner will break from the favorite's immediate outside.
Pletcher won the Lane's End in 2001 with Balto Star and in 2005 with Flower Alley.
Connemara will be ridden by Russell Baze who has been aboard the chestnut colt the last two starts. Owned by Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Mrs. John Magnier, Connemara is coming off a win in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields last month.
The three-year-old was second to Ranger Heartley in the California Derby at Golden Gate two months ago. Connemara has won three of four career starts for $147,800.
"We're not ruling out the Derby for him," Pletcher said, "but we're really not looking beyond this race. "He liked the track at Turfway when he broke his maiden, so this looks like a good spot for him. He has trained on dirt and turf, but synthetics seem to be his preferred surface. If he does well, whether he goes in the Derby would probably depend more on how he did training at Churchill following the race."
Doubles Partner will have the services of Chris DeCarlo as rider. The colt is 10-1 in the morning-line and will be making his initial stakes appearance.
"This will be a step up for him," said Pletcher, "but he did beat Lentenor in his last race, and Lentenor just came back to be fourth in the Florida Derby. (Doubles Partner) is a WinStar (Farm) horse so he's spent a lot of time training at Keeneland and he seems to like the synthetic."
Doubles Partner won his last start, an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in February. He has earnings of $59,723 with two wins in five starts.
Ranger Heartley, winner of the California Derby, has drawn post five for the race and is 6-1 in the program. Trained by John Sadler, the gelding will be ridden by Michael Baze for the first time.
The Lane's End will be the fourth meeting between Ranger Heartley and Connemara. The series stands at two wins for Connemara and one for Ranger Heartley.
"We're looking for another chance to keep him on the Derby trail, and we wanted to keep him on the synthetic, so we decided to take him out of town," said Sadler. "It wasn't that smooth last time (in the El Camino Real), but he's been training forward since that race. I'm not concerned about the distance (of the Lane's End) but he likes to be on the lead, so it depends on what kind of trip he gets."
Ranger Heartley has four wins in 10 starts for owners David and Herb Alpert. Most recently fifth in the El Camino Real Derby, the three-year-old has career earnings of $122,440.
Here is the complete field for the Lane's End in post position order: Connemara, Russell Baze, 9-5; Doubles Partner, Chris DeCarlo, 10-1; Chief Counsel, Francisco Torres, 12-1; Kettle River, James Lopez, 8-1; Ranger Heartley, Michael Baze, 6-1; Outlaw Man, Alex Solis, 8-1; Northern Giant, Calvin Borel, 5-1; Letsgetitonmon, John McKee, 20-1; Dean's Kitten, Cornelio Velasquez, 5-1 and Vow to Wager, Victor Lebron, 20-1.
The Lane's End Stakes has a scheduled post-time of 5:12 p.m. (et) and will be shown live on the USA Network along with the Louisiana Derby.