Kentucky Derby

Lexington Stakes Preview: Last Chance for Derby Points

My Boy Jack Winning the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes (Coady Photography)

The Keith Desormeaux-trained My Boy Jack headlines the Grade 3, $200,000 Lexington Stakes, which has drawn a full field of 12 horses. My Boy Jack won the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes in February and was most recently third in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. The Lexington will go off as number nine on Saturday’s star-studded 11-race program and will be contested over a mile and 1/16. Local approximate post time for the race will be 5:34 p.m. ET, with first post for Keeneland beginning Saturday at 1:05 p.m.

The race is the final prep on the road to the Kentucky Derby and offers 34 points on a 20-8-4-2 basis to the top four finishers. My Boy Jack currently has 32 points, which puts him just outside of the projected cut line to make the 20-horse field at Churchill Downs. A win in the race would ensure his spot in the starting gate. Jockey Kent Desormeaux will have the mount once again for his brother on Saturday and breaks from post 12.

Greyvitos and Pony Up are the two other horses in the field that still have hopes of making the Kentucky Derby. The Adam Kitchingman-trained Greyvitos won the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar in November, then won the $400,000 Remington Park Springboard Mile in December to earn 10 Kentucky Derby points. Soon after, though, he had bone chips removed from his knee. The Lexington Stakes will be his first start of 2018, and even with a win, he still could be on the outside looking in as far as the Kentucky Derby is concerned. Greyvitos will be ridden by Joel Rosario and break from position six.

2018 Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby Wagering Guide

Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Pony Up finished second in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks over the Turfway Park synthetic surface in his most recent start but moves back to dirt for this race. With eight Kentucky Derby points, he may also be on the outside looking in, even with a win. Pony Up will be ridden by John Velazquez and break from post position seven.

The full field for the Lexington Stakes includes: Battle at Sea, Telekinesis, Seven Trumpets, Honor Up, Magicalmeister, Greyvitos, Pony Up, Gracida, Navy Armed Guard, Zanesville, Arched Feather, and My Boy Jack.

Top Choices

#12 My Boy Jack – I admit, he proved me wrong with his third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby last time out. After his win at Oaklawn Park in the Southwest over a sloppy track, I thought that he took advantage of ideal conditions, but his Louisiana Derby effort proved that he’s for real. In this spot, the pace looks very hot on paper, which could be to his benefit. We know that he can close with a fury, and I don’t think that this outside post will bother him, as he will likely drop to the back of the pack. He’ll certainly be hard to hold off if he comes with his normal late-closing run.

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers

#2 Telekinesis – There’s no doubt that he lacks seasoning just a bit, but this Mark Casse-trained colt has been very solid in both of his career races. On debut, he easily dispatched his rivals, then followed that up with a nice third-place effort against allowance foes. This will be his second time going two turns, which should lead to some improvement. Casse has lured in jockey Javier Castellano to ride, which is a major positive. If he isn’t intimidated by this field, then he can certainly hang with this bunch from a speed figure standpoint.

#6 Greyvitos – After an injury forced him to miss nearly every Kentucky Derby prep race this year, he’s now back for the final one of the season. Going into 2018, he was considered a prime Kentucky Derby contender, but can he be ready for a race like this off of an injury and layoff? It will be a tough task, and there also looks to be a lot of speed in this race. All that adds up to a tough setup, but I still respect this horse greatly. His Bob Hope and Springboard Mile wins were very nice. If he comes back ready to roll, then he can win this one without a doubt. I’m not sure that you should leave him off of your tickets.

Exotic Plays

#7 Pony Up – This horse was my top pick in the Jeff Ruby Steaks and broke my heart, losing by only a neck. I have no illusions that the Jeff Ruby Steaks was a tough race, but the horse made a move that was at least visually impressive. He must now move back to dirt, which is probably not his best surface, but he at least has a couple of races over the surface, which should help, and Velazquez riding gives him another advantage. He could make a little bit of noise with some luck.

Party Crashers

#4 Honor Up – All you have to do is look at the company lines for this horse and realize that he has a big shot. Two races back, he was defeated by only 1 3/4 lengths to Audible, the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes and the Grade 1 Florida Derby winner. After losing, he broke his maiden at Aqueduct by nearly 12 lengths in a complete romp. Obviously, the big question will be how he hands the jump up in class, but he’s showing all of the signs of an improving horse. He should also love going this distance.

Throw Outs

#1 Battle At Sea – He has steadily gotten better with each start and comes into this race off of two straight victories. However, those wins came against Louisiana-bred company, so this will be a jump up in class. I considered putting him as an exotic play, but changed at the last minute.

#3 Seven Trumpets – Trainer Dale Romans has given this horse several shots, but he has yet to show much to give you enough confidence to bet him. He could hit the board, but others appeal more and will be better odds. This horse has some major proving to do.

#10 Zanesville – After a solid showing at Delta Downs this year, this horse came to Turfway Park to run in the Jeff Ruby Stakes and gave a solid effort to finish fourth. However, you have to question how tough that race was, and now must move back to the dirt.

#8 Gracida – This Louisiana-bred will give open company a try after two failed attempts against state-bred horses at Fair Grounds. He earned decent speed figures in both of those efforts, but you have to question his class as he comes into this spot.

#5 Magicalmeister – After three straight races at Turfway Park over the synthetic surface, he now switches back to the dirt. He broke his maiden by 9 lengths over the dirt on debut, but it’s important to note that race came at Mahoning Valley. He must prove that he can compete with solid competition, having wilted against weaker so far.

#11 Arched Feather – Last time out in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, he showed that he didn’t like the synthetic surface, but he was also beaten badly in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes to start his year. The dirt surface will be a positive for him, but in the end, he may not be good enough for this type of company.

#9 Navy Armed Guard – The good news is that he’s coming into this race off of the best performance of his life, having finally broken his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs in a maiden special weight. The bad news is that he wasn’t competitive in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, and this field has come up very tough. He looks overmatched.

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