03/18/2008 11:00PM

Lowdown on Lane's End cast


LAS VEGAS - The road to the Kentucky Derby is in full swing. The last two weekends showcased the winners of the Louisiana Derby (Pyro), El Camino Real Derby (Autism Awareness), and Tampa Bay Derby (Big Truck), as well as the Gotham (Visionaire), Rebel (Sierra Sunset), and San Felipe (Georgie Boy) stakes, and the next four weekends are jam-packed with crucial Derby preps.

This Saturday, the big Derby prep is the Lane's End Stakes at 1 1/8 miles over Turfway Park's Polytrack, and there are a few under-the-radar

3-year-olds who could move up in stature with a good performance.

A brief pedigree analysis of the Lane's End probables:

Adriano: A disappointing ninth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, Adriano has primarily raced on turf - and was fourth, beaten less than six lengths by Wicked Style, in the Breeders' Futurity over Keeneland's Polytrack. Adriano is by A.P. Indy and out of a Mr. Prospector mare, and his second dam, Golden Treat (Theatrical), won the Santa Anita Oaks and was second in the Fantasy Stakes. Golden Treat is also a half-sister to Belmont Stakes winner Bet Twice. A big effort Saturday would make Adriano a serious Derby threat, because he has the pedigree to relish 1 1/4 miles on dirt.

Cannonball: He ran third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and Tropical Park Derby, his best races have been on grass, which would be expected from a son of Catienus (Storm Cat). While his chances of getting 1 1/4 miles on dirt is highly questionable, his turf pedigree is fine for Turfway's synthetic surface. Notably, his fourth dam is a full sister to Drumtop, one of the best turf females from 1969-71. His fifth dam, Zonah, was a half-sister to champion Gamely.

Chitoz: Second by a neck in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile over this surface behind Texas Fever last year, Chitoz has shown an affinity for this track, but 1 1/8 miles may be a furlong too far for a son of speed influence Forest Wildcat, whose offspring are best sprinting. He gets a boost of class from his dam, who is a half-sister to sprint champion Rubiano, and his third dam is a full sister to Relaunch.

Halo Najib: After winning his maiden debut at Keeneland, he was a game second to Court Vision in the Iroquois Stakes. He dueled throughout the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes but tired to finish fifth at 1 1/16 miles. He was third in his 3-year-old debut in the Hutcheson Stakes over a sloppy track, won the OBS Championship Stakes over another synthetic surface, and then was a nonthreatening sixth in the Fountain of Youth. By Halo's Image and out of a Sword Dance mare, the most important part of his pedigree is his female family, the key to a Thoroughbred's class. Halo Najib's fifth dam is Open Fire, the 1966 champion older mare.

Macho Again: He is from the first crop of juvenile champion Macho Uno, and is out of a Wild Again mare who is a half-sister to stakes winner Kiwi Mint. Macho Again was sixth in the Lecomte Stakes, but his best race came in his last start as a juvenile, when he ran second, a neck behind Monba, in an allowance race at one mile. He is not particularly bred for

1 1/4 miles, but I would love to see him try grass since I designated Macho Uno an HT (hidden turf) stallion just like his sire, Holy Bull.

Medjool: By Monarchos and out of a half-sister to Point Given, Medjool was bred to be a late developer who would blossom at 3 going a route of ground. In fact, he showed promise in four starts at 2, running second three times and finishing third once - in his debut, to Colonel John. He had to steady on the rail in the California Derby and finished sixth, beaten only four lengths behind race winner Yankee Bravo, but returned with a big allowance win at Santa Anita in his most recent start. Like Adriano, a big performance by Medjool would give him much-needed graded earnings, and he is a genuine threat at 1 1/4 miles. He is my pick to win the Lane's End at a decent price.

Racecar Rhapsody: Aside from Lion Heart, who ran a game second to Smarty Jones in a Kentucky Derby over a sloppy surface, most runners by Tale of a Cat want no part of 1 1/4 miles. Racecar Rhapsody does get stamina from his first two damsires, A.P. Indy and Nijinsky II, but this is a pedigree that may be at its limit at

1 1/8 miles.

Turf War: By Dixie Union and out of the Mr. Prospector mare Grass Skirt, he is a full brother to recent Mineshaft Stakes winner Grasshopper, who gave Street Sense fits when running a close second in the Travers Stakes. Turf War earned enough graded earnings to qualify for the Kentucky Derby by winning the lucrative Delta Jackpot Stakes last year - but he must have a big effort here to move on to Louisville. His second dam, Balinese, is a full sister to Oak Leaf Stakes winner Folk Art, Group 1 winner Mashaallah, and Sportin' Life, the sire of Belmont Stakes winner Bet Twice.