04/13/2010 11:00PM

Lexington shaping up a good show

Email
Don Haines/Tom Cooley
Uptowncharlybrown drew post 2 with Garrett Gomez named and could be a slight favorite.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - It might wind up having little or no impact on the Kentucky Derby picture, but you won't see a much better wagering event than the $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes, which will be run Saturday for the 29th time at Keeneland.

A field of 12 3-year-olds has been entered for the Grade 2 Lexington, and none are standouts - nor throwouts. Uptowncharlybrown drew post 2 with Garrett Gomez named and could be a slight favorite while carrying some sentimental dollars. The colt's trainer, Alan Seewald, died Monday and Uptowncharlybrown will compete Saturday in the name of Linda White, his longtime assistant.

Other top contenders in a top-to-bottom head-scratcher include Krypton, Distorted Dave, and the uncoupled Todd Pletcher duo of Exhi and Connemara. Pletcher has won three of the last five runnings of the 11/16-mile Lexington, including the last two with Behindatthebar and Advice.

Cracking the top 20 list for the May 1 Kentucky Derby could be difficult even for the Lexington winner, since few of those entered have accrued a significant amount of graded earnings to date. As of Wednesday, it appeared that nearly $219,000 will be needed to make the Derby.

Last year, the Lexington was worth $300,000, with $186,000, or 62 percent, going to the winner, Advice. But this year the winner will get only $180,000, because Keeneland has since begun paying out 60 percent to the winner while distributing 2 percent of purses to the sixth- through last-place finishers. That missing $6,000 might actually matter in regard to Derby eligibility, depending on defections in the coming days.

Besides the Lexington, the 10-race Saturday card also includes the Grade 3, $100,000 Giant's Causeway Stakes, a filly-mare turf sprint that drew a field of eight, with Canadian Ballet and West Ocean the likely favorites.

Oaks looking packed

Churchill Downs officials are expecting an overflow cast for the April 30 Kentucky Oaks, with the 14-horse limit surely having to be invoked. At this early juncture, Blind Luck, the California-based filly who won the Fantasy Stakes last out, looks like a solid favorite in the 1 1/8-mile race.

As of Wednesday, these are the fillies who would make the cutoff for the Grade 1, $500,000 Oaks based on graded earnings: Ailalea, Amen Hallelujah, Beautician, Blind Luck, Crisp, Devil May Care, Evening Jewel, It's Tea Time, Joanie's Catch, Jody Slew, Quiet Temper, Sassy Image, She Be Wild, and Tidal Pool. The connections of another five or six fillies say they want in if possible.

Trainer Rusty Arnold has been particularly pleased with the recent progress made by It's Tea Time, whose late rush in the April 3 Ashland Stakes barely missed catching the victorious Evening Jewel.

"She's really bounced out of that well," said Arnold, who plans to work the filly here Friday.

Dixie Band trying grass

Dixie Band, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity last summer, will try to return to form when he makes his turf debut Friday in the sixth race, a 5 1/2-furlong classified allowance restricted to 3-year-olds. Dixie Band was soundly beaten in his last two starts, the Breeders' Futurity and Swale Stakes, after opening his career with three straight wins at Arlington Park.

"I'm just trying to get some feel about how me might like the grass," said trainer Wayne Catalano. "He worked unbelievable here the other day," going a half-mile last Friday in 46.40 seconds, "and this looked like a good spot for him."

Simms fighting his way back

Trainer Garry Simms is battling multiple myeloma but felt well enough Wednesday to be on hand to run Tap N Point in the first race. Simms, 58, underwent radiation treatments in recent weeks and is soon scheduled to undergo a stem-cell replacement in Arkansas.

"I'm fighting it," said Simms, who watched on television from home when Five Star David won an allowance race here last Saturday. "I couldn't get out of bed for a couple months, but now I'm on my way back up."

Morgan back at the track

Jim Morgan, who retired several years ago from a lengthy training career, was a racegoer here Wednesday with his grandson, a student at the nearby University of Kentucky. "I just sold the last horse I owned," said Morgan, 75.

Morgan was a perennial leading trainer for years at River Downs but also enjoyed success in Kentucky, including two stakes wins at Keeneland.

* The final full week of the meet ends Sunday with the Grade 3, $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes. Giant Oak, Dubious Miss, Just as Well, and Kiss the Kid are among at least eight older horses expected for the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race.