LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Coolmore Lexington Stakes long has represented a last-gasp chance for a horse to make the Kentucky Derby field, regardless of whether the two-week span between races is ideal. This year, however, none of the prospective starters in the Grade 2, $300,000 Lexington have enough graded earnings to make a difference, so it looks as if the race is being rendered moot toward the Derby picture.
The 29th Lexington, to be run Saturday at Keeneland, offers a $180,000 winner's share, so with the expected cutoff for the 136th Derby on May 1 being inordinately high this year - the No. 20 horse on an updated list Monday had more than $230,000 in graded earnings - the Lexington won't be yielding a Derby starter or two unless something unforeseen occurs by the time entries are drawn Wednesday.
Distorted Dave, a California shipper trained by John Sadler, could vie for favoritism with the Bob Baffert-trained Game on Dude in the Lexington, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race that is shaping up with a well-matched field. Distorted Dave had his final pre-race work on Saturday when going six furlongs, handily, in 1:13.40 at Santa Anita.
Game on Dude, who will be making his first start for Baffert since an ownership change, had his final pre-race drill Sunday at Keeneland, going six furlongs in 1:14.20.
Two other Lexington prospects worked Monday at Keeneland, with Kettle River going five furlongs in 1:00.60, and Call Shot going a half-mile in 49.60 seconds.
Other likely starters for the Lexington include Chief Counsel, Exhi, Krypton, Prince Will I Am, Uptowncharlybrown, and Workin for Hops.
One main storyline sure to develop this week toward the Lexington will focus on Uptowncharlybrown, who was third in the Sam F. Davis and fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby in his last two starts. Alan Seewald, the colt's 62-year-old trainer, died unexpectedly Monday morning at his New Jersey home, and the colt's managing partner, Bob Hutt, said the race will serve as a tribute to Seewald, whom Hutt described as his "best friend."
"We're going to run this horse Saturday for him," Hutt said.