04/11/2010 11:00PM

Lexington lacking in Derby drama


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Coolmore Lexington Stakes long has represented a last-gasp chance for a horse to make the Kentucky Derby field, regardless of whether the two-week span between races is ideal. This year, however, none of the prospective starters in the Grade 2, $300,000 Lexington have enough graded earnings to make a difference, so it looks as if the race is being rendered moot toward the Derby picture.

The 29th Lexington, to be run Saturday at Keeneland, offers a $180,000 winner's share, so with the expected cutoff for the 136th Derby on May 1 being inordinately high this year - the No. 20 horse on an updated list Monday had more than $230,000 in graded earnings - the Lexington won't be yielding a Derby starter or two unless something unforeseen occurs by the time entries are drawn Wednesday.

Distorted Dave, a California shipper trained by John Sadler, could vie for favoritism with the Bob Baffert-trained Game on Dude in the Lexington, a 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race that is shaping up with a well-matched field. Distorted Dave had his final pre-race work on Saturday when going six furlongs, handily, in 1:13.40 at Santa Anita.

Game on Dude, who will be making his first start for Baffert since an ownership change, had his final pre-race drill Sunday at Keeneland, going six furlongs in 1:14.20.

Two other Lexington prospects worked Monday at Keeneland, with Kettle River going five furlongs in 1:00.60, and Call Shot going a half-mile in 49.60 seconds.

Other likely starters for the Lexington include Chief Counsel, Exhi, Krypton, Prince Will I Am, Uptowncharlybrown, and Workin for Hops.

One main storyline sure to develop this week toward the Lexington will focus on Uptowncharlybrown, who was third in the Sam F. Davis and fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby in his last two starts. Alan Seewald, the colt's 62-year-old trainer, died unexpectedly Monday morning at his New Jersey home, and the colt's managing partner, Bob Hutt, said the race will serve as a tribute to Seewald, whom Hutt described as his "best friend."

"We're going to run this horse Saturday for him," Hutt said.

Handle down 13% on Blue Grass Day

Keeneland drew a festive crowd of 33,727 on Saturday, Blue Grass Stakes Day, barely missing the all-time record of 33,821 set three years ago on Lexington Day, but the ontrack numbers weren't nearly enough to offset yet another disappointing day of business in racing. The all-sources handle was $13,607,962, down 13 percent from the nearly $15.7 million bet last year, when ontrack attendance was 27,788.

* Jack Conway, who owns Blue Grass winner Stately Victor with his father, Tom, serves as the attorney general of Kentucky and is embroiled in a heated primary race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jim Bunning. Mornings at Churchill during Derby Week would provide an ideal setting for Conway to see and be seen, but for one problem: Stately Victor will be stabled a few miles away in the relative calm of the Trackside training center.

"I have no idea how that's all going to work," said a smiling Mike Maker, the trainer of Stately Victor.

* After winning the Blue Grass aboard the 40-1 Stately Victor, jockey Alan Garcia recalled his 2008 Belmont Stakes victory with 38-1 shot Da' Tara.

"I won the Belmont with a longshot," Garcia said. "I believe everything can win."

* By going off at 3-1, Interactif tied for the highest-priced favorite in Blue Grass history with Can Trust in 1958. Both horses finished fourth.

* The two-day wager linking Karelian in the Maker's Mark Mile and Stately Victor in the Blue Grass returned $491.80 for $2.

* Collect the Cash, the dam of Stately Victor, won the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup here in 2000.