Updated on 09/16/2011 7:20AM

Take your pick of 14

Windward Passage, bumped from the Kentucky Derby, runs in Saturday's Lone Star Derby.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Lone Star Park has changed its strategy this year by moving the the Lone Star Derby out of the crowded prep season to a week after the Kentucky Derby.

The new approach, intended to attract a larger, more competitive field, has worked. Fourteen 3-year-olds have been entered in the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 3, $500,000 race, which will be run for the sixth time Saturday.

For horseplayers, the pickings are good. The race is deep, with nine runners having won at least one stakes. The rest are stakes-placed, and to spice things up a little more, horses are coming from both coasts and Kentucky. All of that makes the task of selecting the winner as difficult for horseplayers as picking a favorite flavor at Baskin-Robbins.

Tracemark, a neck winner of the $150,000 California Derby in his last start, figures prominently in the race, as do Cappuchino, who set a fast pace in the California Derby before being overtaken late;

Grade 3 Rebel winner Windward Passage, who was bumped from the Kentucky Derby lineup at the last minute; and Smoked Em, the $125,000 Federico Tesio winner, who gets the services of Chris McCarron.

"His strength is he's a big, long-striding kind of horse, and when he falls into that rhythm he has, he's very efficient," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Smoked Em.

Adding to the field's depth is Peekskill, the third-place finisher in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, who will attempt to give his trainer, Tony Reinstedler, a second straight win in the Lone Star Derby. Other contenders include Wiseman's Ferry, a runner-up to Johannesburg last year in Ireland; regional stakes winners Jeremiah Jack and Screen Idol; and the improving colts Bay Monster, Holdthehelm, and Dusty Spike.

Despite all the enticing options, the flavor of the day could prove to be Tracemark. He has come alive since he started racing around two turns on a regular basis earlier this year, and he showed heart to run down Cappuchino, part of a favored entry, in the California Derby on April 13.

"He had a game little win, and he hasn't missed a beat since that race," said Craig Dollase, who trains Tracemark. "He looks like he's on the improve."

In his race before the California Derby, Tracemark finished fourth to Medaglia d'Oro in the Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita. He was ridden that day by Alex Solis, who will be aboard Saturday.

In addition to blossoming at the right time, Tracemark has the tactical speed that could prove beneficial in the Lone Star Derby. The race has attracted its fair share of speed horses, which could also benefit closers Windward Passage and Peekskill.

Barry Irwin, president of the Team Valor syndicate that owns Windward Passage, feels Windward Passage has been able to stay sharp despite losing a spot in the Kentucky Derby field at the 11th hour when Danthebluegrassman was entered.

"He's definitely ready to run a good race," said Irwin.

In his most recent start, Windward Passage finished in a dead heat for third with Bay Monster in the Grade 2, $500,000 Arkansas Derby. Steve Asmussen trains Windward Passage, and Donnie Meche will ride.

Corey Lanerie will ride Peekskill, who finished fifth last out to eventual Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem in the Grade 2 Illinois Derby at Sportsman's Park. A closer, he was at a disadvantage over a track that has been kind to speed and had a tough time negotiating the tight turns there, said Reinstedler.

The Lone Star Derby will be shown on tape delay on ESPN2 on Sunday at 5 p.m. Eastern.

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