04/12/2015 5:20PM

Road to the Derby analysis: Lexington Stakes

Coady Photography
Divining Rod wins the Lexington Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland.

Grade 3, $250,000 Lexington Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Keeneland, April 11, 2015
(10 Derby qualifying points for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third, 1 for fourth)

Winner: Divining Rod
Trainer: Arnaud Delacour
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Owner: Lael Stables
Beyer Speed Figure: 98

The Lexington was run on the same day as the Arkansas Derby and thus concluded the prep season toward the Kentucky Derby, but this race was worth one-tenth the point value of the Arkansas Derby and thus drew a field of horses who were unlikely to move on to the Derby.

DIVINING ROD, the winner, doubled his point value to 20, and with several horses above him looking iffy to make the race, that might very well be enough to get in. But Roy Jackson, who races as Lael Stables with his wife, Gretchen, soon after the race squashed any debate over whether Divining Rod would run, saying, “No, I don’t think so.”

The Jacksons won the Derby in 2006 with Barbaro, a homebred like Divining Rod.

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

The significance of this race, though, may be through Carpe Diem, who won the Tampa Bay Derby – in which Divining Rod finished third – before his victory in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 4. Danzig Moon, fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby, came back to finish second in the Blue Grass. At the least, Divining Rod’s win is another indication the form of the Tampa Bay Derby is holding up. It also shows that Divining Rod is continuing to improve. The decision to bypass what looks like a brutally tough Derby could pay dividends down the line, allowing this colt more time to develop. This was only his fifth lifetime start.

In the Lexington, Divining Rod broke sharply from the rail and saved ground while under a snug hold behind the early leader FAME AND POWER. He stayed there until midway on the far turn when he was tipped three paths wide to go after Fame and Power and DONWORTH, who had moved to challenge Fame and Power for the lead. He moved past those horses in upper stretch with a nice turn of foot and drew away to easily win in a race that began and ended at the sixteenth pole. Considering how well Divining Rod was going throughout, he looked like a winner every step of the way.

Donworth just did take second over Fame and Power in a promising try, considering this was only his second start and first around two turns. He broke half a step slow and wound up three paths wide into the first turn, then made a determined bid to advance into second in the midst of a second quarter-mile that went in 23.87 seconds. He moved to challenge Fame and Power for the lead midway on the far turn, failed to fend off Divining Rod, but prevailed narrowly in a spirited stretch drive with Fame and Power for the runner-up spot.

Fame and Power finished third after setting the early pace, which he grabbed when sent for the lead from post 6. He was challenged by Donworth on the far turn and raced with that one the final quarter-mile, virtually in unison, and just did get touched out for second.

COMFORT, who finished fourth, was clobbered at the start when TIZNOW R J veered in, causing a chain reaction that also impacted QUIMET. He had to check shortly out of the gate and wound up last into the first turn. He advanced while three paths wide on the far turn and got within less than two lengths of the leaders but did not have enough to hold in Divining Rod, was out-quickened in upper stretch, and only made incremental impact on the second- and third-place finishers in the closing yards.

The rest were well beaten.

HENRY JONES, who finished fifth, bobbled slightly leaving the gate, raced between and just behind Divining Rod and Donworth entering the backstretch, dropped back to race in the clear heading down the backstretch, was outrun midway on the turn, had his rider glance toward his hindquarters as if he thought something was amiss, and was ridden sympathetically through the stretch.

Tiznow R J, who finished sixth, veered in sharply at the start after bobbling to bother the two rivals nearest to his inside, raced outside Quimet down the backstretch, could not keep up with Comfort when that rival rallied past him with three furlongs to go, dropped back, and failed to change leads in yet another desultory effort.

Quimet, who was bumped hard leaving the gate, raced on the rail while inside Tiznow R J and behind Divining Rod around the first turn and through most of the backstretch, but began to drop back readily beginning with three furlongs to go and wound up last.

tommy More than 1 year ago
I don't know what to say about this race other than it looks like a good allowance race , just judging the the field!! I don't know why people say this was a big tough graded stakes race !!!!!! This is an optional claimed allowance at best !!! These horses can't even qualify for the kentucky derby !!!!!!
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Relax Tommy, know one is comparing these to the top Derby prospects. This race was a very good Grade 3....that's why it's a Grade 3. And ironically, it was a good Grade 3. Divining Rod is a very good horse....yes, not as good as AP, Dortmund or others Ky Derby bound...but, he is good. Donworth is going to be a very good one...he may even be a Grade 1 winner some day...he's just way behind in racing development is all. He'll be a good one. By the way, I agree this race is never that tough..but, just a reminder, Charasmatic came out of the Lexington and won the Derby and Preakness....sadly went lame in Belmont....but, was a sire. Anyway, relax, this article is just keeping us all on what happened in this race and possible Derby possibilities....as this is officially the last Derby prep. Divining Rod won't be in the Derby, but, he is a pretty nice animal...so no reason to say this is a good allowance race....you will see....down the road a couple of these 3 year olds might get better as they age. Good luck to you. By the way, AP ran great didn't he? However, I'm still all about Dortmund. Thankfully AP ran well, so hopefully I'll get 7/2 on Dortmund now. Win or lose....I will enjoy the race! Have fun.
tommy More than 1 year ago
On top of my exacta and trifecta ticket for 1st, I will have american pharaoh, materiality, mubtaahij, and firing line. Underneath my exotics I will have upstart, Dortmund, carpe diem, frosted, international star, and all the horses I listed for 1st !!! American pharaoh did everything I was looking for which was to run the mile @ 1:36 or less and finish 1 1/8 distance between 1:47 - 1:49. This is my criteria for picking derby winners because this shows they have high vo2 max and lactate threshold!! Also in kentucky derby history, horses that meet my criteria duplicated that in the derby and always finished in the top 3 !!! Mubtaahij is the next orb ??????? That's right orb ran 1 3/16 in the Preakness with the same time as mubtaahij did breezing in the hand ride win in the Dubai derby without LASIX !! Imagine if mubtaahij had LASIX and was ride hard handily, then he would have ran it at 1:53 - 1:54 !! They have similar vo2 max and lactate threshold with similar running style stalking the leader and then smoking him on top of the stretch !!! In my opinion, mubtaahij is slightly better than orb!! If the jockey actually asks mubtaahij to run, he has the speed to make a track record!!
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Hi Tommy, beware of Mubtaahij. He is a true runner. But, that trip from Dubai to the U.S. seems to knock these horses out a bit. I could be wrong. And I'm not saying he isn't good enough to win...I'm just saying that history as shown that is a trip that just takes the punch out of those horses. I still like your enthusiasm though. Good luck to you.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
This routine is starting to remind me remind me of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.Frank,you know tommy is destined to go out on his own.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
LOL. made me laugh. You're probably right Randy.
Rickey Cooper More than 1 year ago
You have heard of the Apollo curse but have you ever known of three favorites winning the derby in a row.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Yea I heard about the Apollo curse!!! The only thing in his way was a lack of fitness compared to the field!! His vo2 max and lactate threshold was significantly lower than his cohorts !!!!! Materiality on the other hand, has a very high vo2 max and lactate threshold. He has the high lactate threshold and 3rd highest vo2 max!! I'm not saying he is a guaranteed win, but I'm saying he's guaranteed to be in the money!!!!!! Remember horses don't have to win to make you money!! I listed the top 4 horses who have highest vo2 max and lactate threshold and listed a bunch of horses underneath !!!! I'm bound to collect come may 2nd with huge profit!!!!
Allan Gauthier More than 1 year ago
I wish you would go away.
Rickey Cooper More than 1 year ago
Apollo was the last to win the derby without racing as a two year old you goof.I would like to know has three favorites won the the derby three years in a row.
Joey W More than 1 year ago
How are you getting the horses vitals to calculate your vo2 max? Or are you just guessing?