A field of 10 will line up at Keeneland on Saturday for the $200,000 Lexington (G3), the next to last Road to the Kentucky Derby points race of 2021.
The Lexington offers up 20-8-4-2 points toward entry into this year’s Run for the Roses. There are just two runners in the field that might possibly show up in three weeks in Louisville.
The 6-5 morning line favorite Proxy has racked up 34 Derby points, and a win or a runner up finish would be enough to earn him a ticket.
The colt is owned by Godolphin which has another pretty good Derby contender in Essential Quality, who is currently the 15-4 early wagering favorite at BetUS in early Kentucky Derby betting. The colt is listed at 3-1 at BUSR in early Derby wagering.
Trained by Michael Stidham, Proxy was fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2) in his last outing on March 20 and his trainer is keeping his options open.
“Proxy is one of those horses who did everything right but not anything real flashy,” Stidham said. “He was never a ‘wow’ horse going into his first start. After the Lexington, we will see how he runs and decide where we go from there.”
2021 Louisiana Derby Replay
The Doug O’Neill trained Hockey Dad picked up 20 points for his third-place finish in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park on March 27 and could make his way into the Derby field with a victory.
The last Road to the Kentucky Derby points race is the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park about two hours after the Lexington.
A field of six will line up led by the Bob Baffert duo of Concert Tour, the even money favorite and Hozier, the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.
Concert Tour picked up 50 points by winning the Rebel (G2) in his last outing. Hozier was second in the Rebel picking up 20 points and would likely need a top three finish to earn his ticket to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday of May.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will feature my strongest plays from Aqueduct, Oaklawn Park and Keeneland.
Let’s head out to Keeneland for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Keeneland Race 9 The Lexington G3 5:30 ET
2 Swiftsure 5-1
5 Unbridled Honor 10-1
7 Proxy 6-5
1 Noble Reflection 15-1
The Asmussen trainee stretches out to two turns for the first time here after winning his first two starts in sprints. He broke his maiden in his debut at Fair Grounds, sent off at 6-5 and taking the field gate to wire to win by 3 ¼ lengths. He returned to beat a solid group of Alw-1 optional claimers in his first start against winners, sitting just off the pace. Three he beat have come back to win next out including the runner up Sir Wellington who won the Gazebo at Oaklawn Park in his next outing on March 20. This race is top heavy with early speed and speed does have the advantage here at this distance with the short stretch. This guy does not appear to be a need to lead type and with Irad up he seems likely to track. He has enough pedigree to handle the added ground. He is by Uncle Mo out of a stakes placed Speightstown mare that ran second in the seven-furlong Forward Gal (G2) in a career that spanned just five starts. Asmussen is 20% winners moving runners from sprint to route. He has a strong off track pedigree if the rains come.
Can this colt come up with a “Bourbonic” type effort like we saw out of his stablemate in the Wood Memorial (G2)? The Pletcher trainee made his stakes debut last out in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) where he broke last and came with a mild late run while wide to finish fourth in a race without a ton of early zip. The colt broke his maiden two back at Tampa going two turns in his third career start. He has shown improvement with each start and Pletcher saw enough last out to try him here. He is going to get a solid pace up front to run at which could set things up for him to be coming late at a generous price.
The colt was my top pick in the Louisiana Derby (G2) where he stalked the early pace after getting bumped around coming out of the gate and did not have enough punch left late in a fourth-place finish, beaten 3 ¾ lengths. He ran second in both the Risen Star (G2) and Lecomte (G3) in his two previous outings. The cut back in distance may suit him and with 34 points he could be headed to Louisville with a solid performance this afternoon. He is out of the multiple G1 stakes winner Panty Raid, who earned over $1 million in her career and has dropped three other winners including G2 winner Micheline ($665,978). He looks as if he has the ideal running style for this race set up and his numbers make him a major threat. However, I just can’t get too excited about backing him at such a short price for the top spot.