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Apr 23, 2010

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            Just when you think they are finally over there is still another prep to be run. The Kentucky Derby is just a week away and there is still a prep race left on Saturday April 24th at Churchill Downs, the Derby Trial. Last week they ran the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland for those looking to get one last chance to get enough graded earnings to race in the Kentucky Derby.

            With a 12 horse field going postward in the Lexington Stakes the slight favorite in the race was CONNEMARA who was sent off at 4.10-1 the close second choice in the race at 4.20-1 was UPTOWNCHARLYBROWN. As the gates broke KRYPTON, who was coming off a big win over this Keeneland Polytrack in an allowance race tried to hold his position from the inside with EXHI, from post eight racing towards the lead. Robby Albarado, the rider of EXHI was able to clear his inside rivals and held a 1 and ½ length lead down the backside while setting solid splits that went in 23:3, 46:4 and 1;11:2. As they entered the top of the stretch EXHI was still in front with KRYPTON starting to fade, BUSHWHACKED, saved ground most of the way and was gaining some ground through the lane to finish second to the front-running EXHI. The worst trip in the race was for UPTOWNCHARLYBROWN who raced in 11th early on from post 2, was forced wide down the backstretch and throughout his entire run on the final turn he was extremely wide trying to close over a track that favored speed all day. Despite the wide trip he was able to finish third, just 1 and ½ lengths off the winner. EXHI was yet another winner for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Kentucky Derby preps but don’t expect to see anyone from this race in the Kentucky Derby. With the win EXHI was still only 24th on the earnings list and was not being pointed to the Kentucky Derby anyway. His two main track wins came over Polytrack, one at Turfway and one at Keeneland. I guess depending on how things work out for the Derby you might see EXHI try the Preakness, the second Jewel of the Triple Crown.

            UPTOWNCHARLYBROWN, the third place finisher was the sentimental favorite in the race. A few weeks prior to this race his trainer, Alan Seewald passed away unexpectedly at age 62 at his home in Middletown, N. J. The owner’s group Fantasy Lane Stable decided that he would have wanted them to run in this race and did so under trainer Linda White who was Seewald’s assistant.

            This would generally be the last prep that actually had any possible impact on the Kentucky Derby but this year the Derby Trial, which used to be a big race and horses, despite only a week before the Kentucky Derby, would prep in this race. DEVIL’S BAG, the two year old champion of 1983, was touted as the fastest horse in the world but his three year old year he failed miserably in the Flamingo finishing fourth. He then followed that up with a big win at Keeneland and came right back nine days later to race in the Derby Trial, winning that race by more than two lengths. He was not going to run in the Derby but looked ahead to the Preakness, but he was found to have a small fracture in his right front knee and was retired. The 2010 version of the Derby Trial features another very fast horse by the name of EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY. He has two wins from four starts with his two losses coming in his first race when he finished third and then when he bolted at 1-5 trying two turns for the first time. He runs with his head cocked but he is very fast, he is trying better company this time around with some very solid runners in this race. PLEASANT PRINCE, runner-up in the Florida Derby by just a nose is in the race, AIKENITE, a Pletcher trainee that was on the Derby trail at the beginning of the year but his disappointing effort in the Blue Grass probably has him off the road, MINER’S RESERVE, a big maiden winner but then flopped at 6-1 in the Florida Derby and a few more solid prospects. If EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY does win the connections said they might look to the Derby, but whatever happens in this race, it is clear the Derby Trial is relevant again.


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