04/16/2013 3:14PM

Lexington Stakes: Examen not using race as Kentucky Derby prep

Email
Benoit & Associates
Grade 1-winning filly Pure Fun might be favored against males in Saturday's Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The winner of the Coolmore Lexington Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland will earn 20 “wild card” points toward eligibility for the May 4 Kentucky Derby, which at this juncture looks like enough points to crack the 20-horse lineup.

Tom Proctor, who will send out Examen in the Lexington, doesn’t much care.

“I don’t need anybody or any points to tell me whether I have a Derby horse or not,” Proctor said with his usual candor. “He’s not even nominated.”

Nonetheless, Proctor said Examen might well be good enough to win the Grade 3, $200,000 Lexington, for which about 10 3-year-olds were expected when entries were drawn Wednesday. Examen, a chestnut by Giant’s Causeway, has won both his starts since being gelded last fall and looks like one of the top contenders in the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race.

“He’s a May foal and just starting to figure things out,” Proctor said.

Bred and owned by Charles and Scott Heider, Examen “doesn’t need to go through all that [Derby] grind,” Proctor said. “I’d actually like to win the Swaps with him this summer at Hollywood Park. I was going to leave him out in California, but we thought he might like the synthetic, so we brought him this way to find out.”

Another Lexington prospect by Giant’s Causeway who sports plenty of upside is Winning Cause, whose trainer, Todd Pletcher, also said he and the colt’s owner, the Alto Racing LLC of Gil Moultray, are likely to pass on the Derby even in the case of victory Saturday.

“We have no thoughts of the Derby at this time,” said Pletcher, who already has as many as five starters for the Derby.

Winning Cause streaked home a winner in a Polytrack allowance sprint during the opening weekend of the Keeneland spring meet and is 2 for 2 over the local surface.

Pure Fun, a Grade 1-winning filly whose connections are hoping to use the Lexington as a springboard to the May 3 Kentucky Oaks, could be a slight favorite over her male opposition Saturday. Other probables for the race include Cerro, Hip Four Sixty Nine, Johnny Handsome, Pick of the Litter, Title Contender, and Where’s Dominic.