03/15/2009 11:00PM

Lane's End lures top riders


If big-name jockeys equate to a big-time race, well, that's what the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes should be Saturday. Garrett Gomez, Edgar Prado, Kent Desormeaux, and Julien Leparoux are among the riders who will be at Turfway Park for the 38th running of the Lane's End, the annual showcase event at the Florence, Ky., track.

It helps that the Lane's End found something of a hole on the racing calendar in general and the Kentucky Derby trail in particular. While four Derby preps were run last weekend, the Grade 2 Lane's End is the only prep on the schedule this weekend.

Gomez, the 2007 and 2008 Eclipse Award winner, has the call from trainer Todd Pletcher on one of the likely favorites, Bittel Road, in a field of at least 10 3-year-olds expected for the Lane's End, which is run at 1 1/8 miles over Polytrack. Bittel Road was fourth in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park to end his 2-year-old season, then was fourth in the Grade 2 Bob Lewis Memorial at Santa Anita in his only start this year.

Prado will ride another of the favorites, West Side Bernie, who won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile last fall at Turfway in just his second career start. West Side Bernie will ship from the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida for trainer Kelly Breen.

Desormeaux is slated to be aboard Hold Me Back for trainer Bill Mott. Hold Me Back, a $400,000 yearling purchase for WinStar Farm, will be making his 3-year-old debut. In his final two starts at 2, Hold Me Back, a Giant's Causeway colt, won an allowance route over the Keeneland Polytrack, then was a distant fifth in the Grade 2 Remsen.

Leparoux, who owns numerous Turfway riding records, will be on Jack Spratt, a Mike Maker-trained colt trying to rebound off a dismal effort in the Fountain of Youth, which was his first try on dirt. Otherwise, Jack Spratt has excelled on turf.

As of Monday, these were the known prospects, with jockeys, for the Lane's End: A.P. Cardinal, Cornelio Velasquez; Bittel Road, Gomez; Flying Private, Israel Ocampo; Hold Me Back, Desormeaux; Jack Spratt, Leparoux; Loch Dubh, no rider; Orthodox, Jesus Castanon; Parade Clown, Eibar Coa; Proceed Bee, Chris Emigh; and West Side Bernie, Prado.

Entries will be drawn Wednesday at the annual Call to the Post luncheon at the track.

The Lane's End is one of five stakes set for Saturday. There is one other graded event: the Grade 3, $150,000 Bourbonette Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. The others are the $100,000 Rushaway, the $50,000 Hansel, and the $50,000 Queen.

The Lane's End and Rushaway will be part of a live, one-hour ESPN2 telecast that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern.

Prospects for the 1 1/16-mile Rushaway include Dueling Alex, Fitzaslew, Gresham, Ninth Client, No Inflation, Sundays Baby Grand, Toccet Rocket, and Ziegfeld.