04/21/2013 8:46AM

Kentucky Derby: Pletcher will wait and see whether to run Lexington winner Winning Cause

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Barbara D. Livingston
If Winning Cause enters the Kentucky Derby, it would give trrainer Todd Pletcher a record six horses in the race.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning at Churchill Downs that no decision will be made until as late as next weekend as to whether Winning Cause will run in the 139th Kentucky Derby.

Winning Cause became eligible for the May 4 Derby by earning 20 points with his 6-1 victory Saturday under Julien Leparoux in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

Owned by the Alto Racing LLC of New Mexico banker Gil Moutray, Winning Cause could become the sixth starter in the Derby for Pletcher, joining Verrazano, Revolutionary, Overanalyze, Palace Malice, and Charming Kitten. The record for most starters for a trainer in one Derby is five.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Pletcher expressed mild surprise in the immediate aftermath of the Lexington that Winning Cause had reached this point. A son of Giant’s Causeway, Winning Cause is now 3 for 3 over the Polytrack surface at Keeneland and winless in four races elsewhere. Pletcher said the primary reason for running in the Lexington was “he was 2-for-2 at Keeneland going into this. We know he likes the surface and thought it was worth taking a shot.”

Pletcher now has won the Lexington a record five times, all of them coming since 2005. Of his four prior Lexington winners, two have run back as longshots in the Derby: Coin Silver (12th at 38-1 in 2005) and Advice (13th at 49-1 in 2009).

Winning Cause won the 1 1/16-mile Lexington by a length over General Election, a 34-1 shot who earned 8 points toward Derby eligibility. Kellyn Gorder, who trains General Election for WinStar Farm, said the May 18 Preakness is a possibility for the colt. Pick of the Litter was third.

The disappointment in the race was the only filly in the field, Pure Fun, who was never a factor when seventh. Trainer Ken McPeek said he believed the filly needed the race and still is likely to run back in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill.

Meanwhile, Leparoux, who won the Blue Grass Stakes the previous Saturday with Java’s War, became the first jockey in 10 years to win both premier 3-year-old races at the same Keeneland spring meet. Edgar Prado, in 2003, was the last to pull such a sweep with Peace Rules in the Blue Grass and Scrimshaw in the Lexington.

Dating to the 2010 fall meet, Leparoux has been the leading jockey at Keeneland for five straight meets, but he appears destined to be a distant second to Joel Rosario, who rode four more winners on the 10-race Saturday card. The good news for Leparoux, however, is that he is by far the top jockey in mount earnings this spring. Through 12 of 16 programs, his earnings total stood at $1,356,231.

Record-breaking win for Ramseys

Ken and Sarah Ramsey broke the record they previously shared for most winners at a Keeneland meet when Scealeile won the first race Saturday, giving them their 13th win this spring. The Ramseys then won two more races, giving them 15 into Sunday action; they will continue to extend their new record with every subsequent winner through the end of the meet on Friday.

The Ramseys previously shared the record of 12 wins at a meet with Calumet Farm, which established the mark in spring 1941, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Roberts, set in fall 1968.

Meanwhile, Rosario entered Sunday action with 26 winners and stands an excellent chance to surpass the spring-meet record of 32 wins by Randy Romero, set in 1990. The all-time Keeneland record for wins at a meet is 45, set by Pat Day in the fall of 1991.

Likewise, Mike Maker, with 15 wins into Sunday, looms a threat to break the all-time record for wins at a Keeneland meet set by his former boss, D. Wayne Lukas, who won 22 races at the 1989 fall meet. The spring-meet record of 16 was set in 2005 by Pletcher.