04/22/2008 1:22PM

Poly Prep II


Maybe it's moot, at least for Derby purposes, to spend much time examining last Saturday's Lexington Stakes. On today's weekly NTRA Derby teleconference, trainer Todd Pletcher sounded as if he's leaning more toward running 1-2 Blue Grass finishers Monba and Cowboy Cal rather than Lexington winner Behindatthebar. The Lexington, however, came up a faster race than the Blue Grass on paper, perhaps because of a much quicker than usual pace over Keeneland's Polytrack.

The Lexington was one of three races on the card for 3-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth. The other two were open maiden-special-weight races that were run over two full seconds slower after going about three full seconds slower in the early going:

Race 1(MdSpWt): 24.36...48.06...1:12.50...1:37.91...1:44.27
Race 5(MdSpWt): 24.04...48.26...1:12.55...1:37.89...1:44.13
Race 9(Gr2 Stks): 22.78...45.21...1:09.48...1:35.47...1:42.14

Those final times earned the maiden races Beyer Speed Figures of 79 and 80 and the Lexington a 99, a better BSF than was recorded by the winners of the Santa Anita Derby (95), Wood Memorial (93) or Blue Grass (92). Obviously, Behindatthebar benefitted from Samba Rooster's fast fractions in front of him and to some degree the race fell apart late, with the final five-sixteenths actually slower than in the two maiden races. Still, it was refreshing to see a Polytrack Derby prep run with an honest pace and a more traditional race shape.

The one hesitation about awarding a relatively strong figure to the Lexington is that most of the top finishers end up being credited with significant career-topping performances. That's always a possibility with blossoming 3-year-olds in the spring but still gives one pause.

---The NTRA today officially launched its Horseplayers' Coalition, which it envisions as the grass-roots arm of its lobbying efforts to reform the tax code on parimutuel proceeds. Players can sign up for an annual fee of $25, which gets you legislative alerts as well as some discounts with vendors including UPS and Office Depot via the NTRA's purchasing program.

---Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis, Ark. is launching a new wager Saturday that may qualify as the toughest on the parimutuel landscape: a twin-superfecta, where a winning superfecta in leg 1 gets you a single exchange ticket to try to hit another super in leg 2. Just to make it even harder, Southland is going from the standard eight-dog to nine-dog fields. At least the base bet is only a dime. The bet will not be capped or paid out until hit exactly.