BALTIMORE, MD – Calumet Farm’s homebred Lexitonian didn’t lead until the last jump, but that was the only jump that mattered as he lunged late to leg out the score in Saturday’s $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.
Dismissed at 17/1 odds by the time he broke alertly from the rail under Jose Ortiz, Lexitonian took back into a stalking position and saved ground. Up front, Malpais and Gladiator King dueled heads apart through opening fractions of :22.65 and :44.82. Off the far turn, Pyron entered the fray up front while running three-wide, but Lexitonian remained inside while awaiting room.
Finally finding space near the 1/8 pole, Ortiz tipped Lexitonian out into the three-path and he began closing determinedly on the pacesetters. Running on the wrong lead as he split Gladiator King and Admiral Lynch, the Jack Sisterson trainee lunged in the shadow of the wire and was able to stick his head out for the win. His final time for the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track was 1:09.74, about 2 seconds slower than Covfefe’s track-record time set in Friday’s Miss Preakness Stakes (G2).
“He broke on top,” Ortiz said after winning his third stakes on the day (following the James W. Murphy Stakes and the Searching Stakes, both held on the turf). “I could have gone to the lead if I’d wanted to, but I figured there was going to be a lot of speed in the first half, so Jack told me if I could relax him and sit him back, ‘I would be the man.’ And that’s what I tried to do. He relaxed really well because the pace was really fast. When I asked him to go, he was there for me the whole time. He didn’t switch leads in the stretch, but he was digging in. He was trying, and that’s all that matters.”
Gladiator King was also running on the wrong lead but managed to head Admiral Lynch for third. Pyron’s failed wide bid cost him in the end as he faded to fourth. Confessor nosed out Still Dreaming for fifth, while Malpais weakened steadily in the stretch to seventh. Cabot never factored into the running, while Preamble, the 8/5 favorite, fell back early and remained there before being eased across the wire.
Lexitonian’s win was his first since breaking his maiden on debut at Belmont Park last June and improved his overall record to 5-2-0-0 with $172,410 earned. The 3-year-old son of Speightstown was subsequently sixth in the Sanford Stakes (G3) and fifth in an optional claiming race before missing seven months and transferring to Sisterson’s care. His 2019 debut came two weeks ago in an allowance race at Churchill Downs, where he finished fifth.
“He came back fine after that race at Churchill,” Sisterson said. “I could be wrong, but he seems like a horse where the more you work, the more he could go over the top, so I figured I might as well run him instead of work him. Someone asked me this morning, ‘What do you think of your horse today?’ and I said, ‘In my opinion, he ran a much better race (at Churchill) than it looked on paper.’ I know he ran an 80-something Beyer, but (jockey) Joel (Rosario), who rode him at Churchill, told me that he used him a little bit early and that if he were to ride him back, he’d take him back. It looked like he was going backwards on us at the 1/4 pole, but then he started to finish up well – and it was a tough allowance as well.”
Lexitonian returned $36 to win, $15.80 to place, and $9 to show. Gladiator King brought back $8.40 to place and $5.80 to show, while Admiral Lynch paid $6.20 to show.