04/20/2013 5:30PM

Lexington Stakes: Winning Cause enters Kentucky Derby picture

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Barbara D. Livingston
Winning Cause (center) wins the Lexington Stakes by a length to give trainer Todd Pletcher a potential sixth starter in the May 4 Kentucky Derby.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – It’s always a case of the rich getting richer when Todd Pletcher sends out a winner, but the results of the Coolmore Lexington Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland provided an interesting twist to that familiar scenario.

Pletcher already had five horses ready to run in the 139th Kentucky Derby when another of his 3-year-olds, Winning Cause, jumped up and won the Grade 3, $200,000 Lexington with a good inside trip under Julien Leparoux. The colt earned 20 points toward eligibility for the Derby lineup and would seem to be in, if so desired – although Pletcher wasn’t about to immediately commit the colt to the May 4 race at Churchill Downs.

Just seconds after Winning Cause crossed under the wire a one-length winner over longshot General Election in the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race, Pletcher was asked whether Winning Cause could be his sixth stable representative in the Derby.

“I’ve never thought he was good enough,” he said, smiling and shrugging his shoulders. “We’ll have to see.”

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

Winning Cause, by Giant’s Causeway, returned $15.60 as the fifth choice after finishing in 1:43.93. For Pletcher, it was his fifth winner in the Lexington from the last nine runnings.

After breaking from post 1 and saving ground in a field of 10 3-year-olds, Winning Cause took over from Cerro after turning for home in the 32nd Lexington and had enough to hold 34-1 General Election safe. Pick of the Litter was third, another neck back, with Cerro yet another neck back in fourth.

Sunbean, the 5-2 favorite, was fifth, while Pure Fun, the 7-2 second choice and the only filly in the field, ran seventh.

Pletcher said earlier in the week that he had not discussed the Derby for Winning Cause with the colt’s owner, Gil Moultray of Alto Racing LLC. After the Lexington, he said the topic would be addressed, although he did not seem to lean one way or the other on whether the colt would join Verrazano, Revolutionary, Overanalyze, Palace Malice, and Charming Kitten in his Derby army.

Only one more points race toward the Derby remains: the Derby Trial next Saturday on opening night of the Churchill spring meet. The Trial winner gets 20 points toward Derby eligibility.

The $2 exacta (1-10) paid $393.40, the $1 trifecta (1-10-2) returned $2,222.90, and the 10-cent superfecta (1-10-2-8) was worth a whopping $1,893.18.

Attendance on a cool, mostly sunny spring afternoon at Keeneland was 32,325.

• One race earlier Saturday, Sweet Cassiopeia ($6.20) ran her winning streak to five when pressing all the pace and going on to win the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway for filly-and-mare turf sprinters.

Joe Rocco Jr. was aboard Sweet Cassiopeia for trainer Bill Connelly. The 5-year-old mare is owned by Dan Considine and Steve Snowden and now has won half of her 18 career starts.