03/19/2009 11:00PM

West Side Bernie gets ideal post

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Pat Lang
West Side Bernie and jockey Edgar Prado will start from post 4 for the Lane's End Stakes on Saturday at Turfway.

FLORENCE, Ky. - Kelly Breen lifted his eyebrows and gave an approving smile. West Side Bernie and jockey Edgar Prado had just been assigned post 4 for the Lane's End Stakes on Saturday, and Breen, the trainer of West Side Bernie, felt it would have been difficult to do any better.

"Good post," said Breen, one of a handful of trainers of Lane's End starters in attendance at the annual Call to the Post luncheon Wednesday at Turfway Park.

Turfway linemaker Mike Battaglia listed Bittel Road as the 5-2 favorite over West Side Bernie (3-1) in a field of 12 3-year-olds entered in the Grade 2 Lane's End, the lone Kentucky Derby prep to be run this weekend. Bittel Road, with Garrett Gomez to ride, was assigned post 2 in the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race.

"Bittel Road being close to us should let Edgar keep a good eye on him," said Breen.

Besides the favorites, the Lane's End, as usual, drew a number of relatively unproven 3-year-olds who conceivably could jump squarely into the Derby picture with a life's-best effort Saturday. With a $500,000 purse yielding $300,000 to the winner, the Lane's End essentially is a "win and you're in," with sufficient graded earnings to ensure a spot in the 20-horse Derby field.

Among those fringe players in the Lane's End cast are Hold Me Back (post 1), a Bill Mott-trained colt making his 3-year-old debut after going 2 for 3 last year; Jack Spratt (post 5), a turf-seasoned colt who ran dismally in the Fountain of Youth on the Gulfstream Park dirt and will return to what figures to be a more suitable surface; and Proceed Bee (post 12) and Parade Clown (post 6), the respective one-two finishers in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway.

The probable pacesetter in the race is Orthodox (post 8), a wire-to-wire winner of a Feb. 23 turf allowance at Fair Grounds in his last start.

"He can rate if need be, but I like that he's a proven front-runner because usually people will then just give him the lead," said trainer John Glenney.

Both Bittel Road and West Side Bernie figure to come from well off the pace.

"I like how it could set up for us, assuming we get a decent trip," said Breen.

Bittel Road, scheduled to arrive Wednesday from California, is trained by Todd Pletcher, who already has won the Lane's End twice, with Balto Star (2001) and Flower Alley (2005).

The 38th Lane's End is one of five stakes set for a 12-race Saturday card. There is one other graded event: the Grade 3, $150,000 Bourbonette Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. The other stakes are the $100,000 Rushaway, the $50,000 Hansel, and the $50,000 Queen.

The Lane's End and Rushaway will be part of a live, one-hour ESPN2 telecast that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern.

First post Saturday is 1:10 p.m. Eastern, with the Lane's End set for 5:43. Although general admission is free on all other days at Turfway, the price Saturday is $10.