04/19/2016 10:46AM

Road to the Derby: Lexington Stakes


Grade 3, $150,000 Lexington Stakes; 1 1/16 miles; Keeneland; April 16, 2016
(10 Derby qualifying points for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third, 1 for fourth)

Winner: Collected, by City Zip
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Owner: Speedway Stable LLC
Beyer Speed Figure: 90

The few points offered in this race made it a blip on the Kentucky Derby trail compared to the Arkansas Derby -- run the same day -- which was worth 10 times the points and drew horses with serious intent on the Derby. The lone horse in the Lexington who even had minor Derby hopes was SWIPE, whose connections chose this 1 1/16-mile race more as a means to ease him back into competition following a lengthy layoff, but he performed poorly in a race where very few horses showed much spark. This does not figure to be a productive race.

Race winner COLLECTED has been cleverly managed to pick off low-hanging fruit while largely avoiding the big hitters. This was his third stakes win of the year at three different tracks, including two in point-scoring races, with the other being the Sham at Santa Anita in January. He may end up being a Preakness candidate, but his turf form early in his career hinted that he eventually may find the grass greener on the other side of the rail.

In the Lexington, Collected broke well from the outside post and had enough speed to cross over and lay second, just outside ONE MORE ROUND, around the first turn. He volleyed for the lead down the backstretch while going along comfortably, was urged aggressively midway on the far turn, bumped with One More Round in upper stretch and then drew away through the lane.

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

One More Round, who finished second, left sharply from his inside stall and led narrowly into the first turn, raced with Collected down the backstretch, led narrowly on the far turn, bumped with Collected in upper stretch, could not go with Collected through the lane, but held off everyone else in a good try for a maiden. That makes three California-based maidens – Laoban and Trojan Nation the others – who shipped out of town and earned points this spring, underscoring the depth of the runners based in the West.

SYNCHRONY, who was third, was near the back of the pack while toward the inside around the first turn, advanced a bit down the backstretch while saving ground, didn’t quicken when initially asked on the far turn, was angled off the rail and split horses about three to four paths wide in upper stretch, and made steady progress to finish third. He’s kind of one-paced.

DIRECT MESSAGE, who finished fourth, settled into a gorgeous spot into the first turn, saving ground in third, just behind the leaders. He was guided off the inside to take up a stalking position outside the leaders down the backstretch, was asked in earnest midway on the far turn while racing outside Swipe, came into the lane in the four path, and went evenly through the lane. Considering his trip, he should have done better.

YO CARM, who was fifth, had no early speed and couldn’t drop in from his outside post, so he wound up about five paths wide into the first turn. He entered the far turn about four paths wide, was cleverly angled toward the inside by Robby Albarado nearing the top of the lane, but never threatened.

Swipe, who finished sixth, broke well and settled into mid-pack, toward the inside, around the first turn. He wound up in a perfect spot heading down the backstretch while inside Direct Message, was asked to go with a little less than three furlongs remaining, but had nothing to offer in a disappointing comeback.

LOMCEVAK, who was seventh, was last into the first turn while on the rail, remained inside with a trouble-free trip the rest of the way, and never was in contention.

RIKER, who was eighth, was mid-pack while three to four paths wide around the first turn, remained wide into the far turn, was about a length behind Direct Message and Swipe with three furlongs to go, but failed to mount a rally while remaining wide throughout. He needs to go back to Woodbine and race on synthetic.

CALL THE COLONEL, who was ninth, was near the back of the pack while three paths wide on the first turn, dropped back to last into the far turn, was guided to the rail, but never showed much interest while always outrun.

BIG SQUEEZE, who finished last of 10, was mid-pack while between rivals around the first turn, then began to fade entering the far turn and dropped out badly to last by the top of the stretch.