04/23/2005 12:00AM

Coin Silver upsets Lexington

Coin Silver, trained by Todd Pletcher, pulls away to a 3 1/2-length victory in the slop in the Grade 2 Lexington.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Todd Pletcher got a third starter for the 131st Kentucky Derby when Coin Silver, a 13-1 shot under Javier Castellano, drove to a surprisingly easy victory Saturday in the $325,000 at Keeneland.

Pletcher, the 2004 Eclipse Award-winning trainer who already had Bandini and Flower Alley for the May 7 Derby, was on hand to watch Coin Silver, well back early, launch a rally between rivals en route to a 3 1/2-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Lexington, the final major Derby prep.

Coin Silver, by the late sire Anees, had won one of four previous starts. He returned $28.80 as fifth choice in the seven-horse field after finishing in 1:45.76 over a sloppy track.

"You've got to love it when a horse starts coming around at this time of year," said Pletcher. "We're going to hope for the Charismatic angle and bounce back in two weeks," a reference to how Charismatic swept the Lexington and Derby in 1999.

Sort It Out, trained by Bob Baffert, made a solid rally to finish second, another 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Storm Surge in third. Then came Forever Wild, Going Wild, Rockport Harbor, and Actxecutive. Skye'n Thunder was an early scratch.

Baffert said immediately afterward that he was not sure whether he would try to make the Derby with Sort It Out.

"I'm not leaning any way," he said.

The $65,000 that Sort It Out earned were his first graded dollars, and would put him on the bubble to make the Derby if more than 20 horses entered.

The 20-length defeat for Rockport Harbor, the 7-10 favorite under Stewart Elliott, all but eliminated his Derby hopes, although trainer John Servis said he would not completely rule out the race.

"Stewart said the horse never got a hold of the track, that he knew we were in trouble after an eighth of a mile," said Servis. "It's unfortunate, but it happens."

Victory in the Grade 2 Lexington completed a notable sweep for Pletcher in Kentucky this spring. He also won the March 26 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park with Flower Alley and the April 16 Toyota Blue Grass with Bandini.

On a cold and blustery day, and with 15,157 in attendance, Actxecutive set the early pace before the others started rolling entering the far turn. Coin Silver, who had gotten away a tad sluggishly, had easily the best finishing kick.

"After the start, I took my chance and took him back," said Castellano. "He rated good."

Coin Silver, owned by the Peachtree Stable of John Fort and partners, will have to get another jockey for the Derby. Castellano already has the mount on likely favorite Bellamy Road.

Bad weather limits activity

The Louisville weather was so nasty early Saturday that Nick Zito kept his Derby hopefuls inside the barn, walking or jogging the shed row.

High Fly and Noble Causeway breezed Friday, a day ahead of schedule, expressly to miss the bad weather. They would have walked Saturday anyway, but Sun King and Bellamy Road, who would have galloped, just jogged along the shed row instead.

Likewise, Bobby Frankel, citing the weather, limited High Limit's activity to a walk along the shed row. Frankel said High Limit would have his final prerace workout next weekend.

Meanwhile, a handful of Derby prospects braved the elements for routine gallops over a sloppy track, including Afleet Alex, Bandini, Consolidator, and Greater Good.

* Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has confirmed Closing Argument, third in the Blue Grass, as a Derby starter. McLaughlin said Closing Argument would work a half-mile Monday at Keeneland.