04/18/2011 2:25PM

Keeneland: Silver Medallion eyes more graded cash in Lexington Stakes

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Silver Medallion works a half-mile Monday morning in 51.40 seconds at Churchill Downs. He is a possible starter for Saturday’s Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Shy of earnings to make the Kentucky Derby field as things stand now, Silver Medallion had his first breeze since returning to Churchill Downs when going an easy half-mile Monday morning in 51.40 seconds, a move that might well have moved trainer Steve Asmussen closer to running the colt Saturday in the Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

“We still have a decision to make,” Asmussen said. “But I did think he moved beautifully over this track this morning.”

Silver Medallion sits just outside the 20-horse Derby cutoff with $184,334 in graded stakes earnings after finishing fourth as a lukewarm favorite in the April 9 Santa Anita Derby. He is one of about perhaps seven 3-year-olds under consideration for the $200,000 Lexington, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race often regarded as the best last-chance stop for making the Derby. Entries will be taken Wednesday.

Other known prospects for the Lexington include Beachcombing, Casper’s Touch, Derby Kitten, Jaycito, and Prime Cut, while Keeneland racing officials have listed Hurricane Lake and Uncle Sam as possible starters.

Leparoux tops jockey standings

Julien Leparoux was aboard four of the nine winners here Sunday to retake the top spot in what is turning into a hotly contested jockeys’ race. As the 15-day meet passed its midway point Sunday, Leparoux had won 12 races, one more than Alan Garcia. Javier Castellano is next with eight.

Leparoux, who has the mount on the apparent Derby favorite, Dialed In, will get the mount back on Kathmanblu for the Kentucky Oaks. Leparoux had been the regular rider for Kathmanblu until he committed to ride Dancinginherdreams in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes here opening weekend. Kathmanblu, with Garcia up, ran third in the Ashland, while Dancinginherdreams finished last of nine.

In the meantime, the Ashland is one of the few races that hasn’t gone exactly to plan for Ken McPeek, trainer of Kathmanblu. Through Sunday, McPeek had sent out a meet-high 10 winners from just 18 starters.

“It’s great when the stars align,” McPeek said. “It’s been a fabulous meet for us so far.”

Cruguet listed to ride in allowance

The initial plan was for Jean Cruguet to come out of retirement with a one-race comeback on April 27 at Keeneland, but when the overnight sheet for Thursday came out, there was Cruguet named to ride Ratoath Special in the seventh race, a $54,000, first-level allowance at six furlongs.

Cruguet, 72, will forever be known for sweeping the 1977 Triple Crown aboard Seattle Slew. He has not ridden competitively since 1996 but said he spent the winter getting fit by riding horses in Ocala, Fla.

Cruguet is dedicating the race to his late wife Denyse and is donating all earnings to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund of the Jockeys’ Guild.

Appalachian draws deep field

As far as the 3-year-old turf-filly division goes, the waters won’t get a lot deeper than Thursday at Keeneland with the Grade 3, $100,000 Appalachian Stakes. The oversubscribed field includes such standouts as Winter Memories, second as a big favorite last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, and Ruthenia, unbeaten in two starts for trainer Christophe Clement.

Only as many as 12 of the 14 fillies entered can run in the one-mile race, the eighth of nine Thursday. Others with solid credentials include Smart Sting, New Normal, and Diva Ash.

Silver Timber has puncture wound

Silver Timber escaped serious injury here Saturday when attempting to defend his title in the Grade 3 Shakertown Stakes. The 8-year-old gelding, ridden by Leparoux, was pulled up in distress and vanned off the turf course shortly after finishing sixth.

“He has a puncture wound on his hind leg,” trainer Chad Brown said. “Luckily, I think he’s okay. We just have to heal him up. It’s definitely not a career-ending injury, but it’s something that’s going to take a little time.”

Silver Timber, a New York-bred, has earned $712,036 from 39 career starts and not only won the 2010 Shakertown but also won the Woodford Stakes at each of the last two Keeneland fall meets.

Turbulent Descent points to Acorn

Racing fans east of the Mississippi can expect to see more of Turbulent Descent after the California-based filly dominated the Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes here Sunday, moving her career record to 5 for 6. Trainer Mike Puype said afterward that he expects to run Turbulent Descent next in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont Park on June 11, followed by the Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga.

Incidentally, the camouflage saddletowel bearing the No. 6 that Turbulent Descent wore in her Beaumont victory has been signed by many top jockeys and is available for bidding through Thursday on eBay. The proceeds go to USA Cares, a nonprofit organization that provides financial aid and advocate assistance to military families. Sunday was Military Appreciation Day here.

◗ Billy Wright, who sent out El Gran Senor to win back-to-back runnings of the Sword Dancer in 1989-90, when the Grade 1 race was still run at Belmont Park, is living in Georgia and hasn’t trained since 2001. But Wright, a grandson of the legendary Horatio Luro, still knows his way to the winner’s circle – he was here Friday to celebrate a nose victory by Ambitoness in the last race. Wright co-owns the 4-year-old filly with his longtime friend, trainer Bill Cesare.

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