04/17/2007 12:00AM

Seeking the next Charismatic

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LAS VEGAS - The Lexington Stakes, run this Saturday at Keeneland, is officially the last graded stakes prep for the Kentucky Derby, and because of its late placement on the calendar it is not regarded as important as the big four final preps at nine furlongs - the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes, Santa Anita Derby and Arkansas Derby.

But the Lexington has yielded many prominent runners for the Derby. Swale ran second in the 1984 Lexington and went on to win the Derby. Stephan's Odyssey won the Lexington the following year and finished second to Spend a Buck in the Derby. The 1988 Lexington featured two colts who would have a great impact on the Triple Crown. Risen Star won the Lexington over 2-year-old champion Forty Niner, and while Risen Star had a terrible trip in his third-place Derby finish, he rebounded to capture both the Preakness and Belmont and was named 3-year-old champion. Forty Niner was second in the Derby behind Winning Colors. Hansel won the 1991 Lexington and won the Preakness and Belmont. Prince of Thieves finished second in the 1996 Lexington and was third in the Derby. The late-blooming Touch Gold won the Lexington in 1997, and thwarted Silver Charm's Triple Crown attempt, winning the Belmont. Proud Citizen won the 2002 Lexington and finished second to War Emblem in the Derby and third in the Preakness.

The last winner of the Lexington to win the Kentucky Derby was Charismatic in 1999. He also won the Preakness and finished a gallant third in the Belmont while breaking a leg.

Belgravia can still make impact

Belgravia, who won 2 of 3 starts at age 2, including the Hollywood Prevue Stakes, makes his belated 3-year-old debut in the Lexington and must be considered a longshot to run in the Derby. The Preakness would be the most logical spot for his next race even if he wins the Lexington.

Belgravia is by Mr. Greeley, who has steadily climbed the stallion ranks to be among the most successful sires in the world. A son of the popular Gone West (a superior sire of sires), Mr. Greeley's offspring are versatile, winning on dirt and turf as sprinter-milers, and some have excelled at middle distances.

Belgravia is out of the ungraded stakes winner Peaks Mill (by Stalwart), a half-sister to Qualique (Hawaii). Qualique is the dam of Maggy Hawk, the dam of Afleet Alex, who finished third in the 2005 Derby and won the Preakness and Belmont.

In addition to running in the Lexington, Belgravia has something else in common with Charismatic. Both have the RF (Rasmussen Factor) to the influential Somethingroyal, through her two most successful offspring, Secretariat (Bold Ruler) and Sir Gaylord (Turn-to).

Others likely for the Lexington are Albertus Maximus, Forty Grams, Joe Got Even, Slew's Tizzy, Soaring By, Starbase, and Xchanger. Boogiemanball, Moyer's Pond, Sacrifice Bunt, and Wafi City are possible.

Joe Got Even, third in the Lane's End Stakes behind Hard Spun, and Wafi City, second to Cowtown Cat in the Gotham Stakes, may be the colts to beat.

A son of Stephen Got Even (sire of 2-year-old champion Stevie Wonderboy and Don't Get Mad), Joe Got Even is bred to love distances over nine furlongs. The stamina influences in his pedigree include A.P. Indy on top, and Inland Voyager (an obscure but well-bred son of Roberto), The Minstrel and Hawaii on the bottom. Especially intriguing is the back-class found in his female family. His fourth dam is a half-sister to Nureyev, and some of the best runners from this very productive family are Sadler's Wells, Bienamado, Moccasin, Lt. Stevens, Ridan, Gamely, Stormy Atlantic, and El Condor Pasa.

Wafi City is from the first crop of E Dubai, who is also the sire of Fantasy Stakes winner High Heels; Barilko, a multiple Canadian stakes winner at 2; Baldwin Stakes winner Desert Code; and the promising Vitruvius, a half-brother to Corinthian and Desert Hero. Wafi City's Darby Dan female family has produced many classic-type runners, including Plenty of Grace, a full sister to Jody G, Wafi City's second dam. Among those to descend from this prolific family are champions Soaring Softly, Devil's Bag, Glorious Song, Rahy, and Singspiel, as well as Saint Ballado and Battle Creek Girl (who created her own successful branch of this female line).

Albertus Maximus is by Albert the Great, also the sire of prominent Derby hopeful Nobiz Like Shobiz. Albertus Maximus is out of the Forty Niner mare Chasethewildwind, a daughter of Grade 1 winner Race the Wild Wind. Notably, his third dam, Redpath, is a half-sister to Partez, who was third in the 1981 Kentucky Derby.

Forty Grams, third in the Southwest Stakes and WinStar Derby, is by Distorted Humor, also the sire of Any Given Saturday and Cowtown Cat. This is the female family of French champion Gyr and his full sister Sys Superstar. Forty Grams's third dam, Aurania, is a full sister to multiple stakes winner Euphrosyne.

Sacrifice Bunt (Storm Cat), who showed some promise at Gulfstream, is a full brother to Vision and Verse, who was second to Lemon Drop Kid in the 1999 Belmont Stakes.

Soaring By, a son of Deputy Minister, is out of a half-sister to Southern Rhythm, winner of the 1994 Lexington.

Starbase is by Tale of the Cat and his dam, Starship Lillian, is a half-sister to Crafty C.T., who was second to Point Given in the 2001 Santa Anita Derby.