Saturday's $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland was the final major prep race for the May 1 Kentucky Derby. But, as expected, it didn't do much to sort out the contenders for the 130th Run for the Roses.
Quintons Gold Rush, a son of Wild Rush, scored a minor upset by drawing clear of 13 rivals in the stretch to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Fire Slam was second and post-time favorite Song of the Sword was third, suffering his second straight loss after opening his career with three straight wins.
Quintons Gold Rush, trained by Steve Asmussen for Padua Stables and Jay Manoogian, won for only the second time in five starts. He was fourth in his last two outings -- the San Rafael and the Santa Anita Derby. The Lexington was his first start outside California and his first for Asmussen. Mike Mitchell trained him in California.
With Jerry Bailey riding, Quintons Gold Rush covered the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.82.
"It was an impressive win," Bailey said. "The big question mark was who could clear the first turn the best without getting shuffled back. There's no way to predict with a 14-horse field and this many speed horses."
While the race may not have sorted out the Derby field, it probably got Quintons Gold Rush into the mix. The colt earned $201,500 for the win, putting him 17th on the graded-stakes earnings list among Derby contenders. If more than 20 horses are entered, the order of preference will be determined by that list.
Bailey said he hasn't decided yet which contender he will ride in the Derby. "That's why I pay (agent) Ron Anderson 25 percent. We have some other options, including Read the Footnotes. We'll probably make up our minds in a couple of days."
In other Derby developments:
-- Saturday's $100,000 Federico Tessio Stakes at Pimlico won't have a bearing on the Kentucky Derby but it might impact the second of the Triple Crown races -- the Preakness Stakes. Water Cannon with Ryan Folgelsonger in the irons, came between horses in the stretch and caught pace-setting filly Pawyne Princess in the final strides to win by a neck. Irish Laddie was only 1/2 length farther back in third. Water Cannon, a Maryland-bred son of Waquoit, is being pointed for the Preakness, said his trainer, Linda Albert. "If they let us in, we'll be in the Preakness. ... He's moving forward with every race," Albert said. Jerry Robb, Pawyne Princess's trainer, said she will move on to the Black Eyed Susan.
-- The runner-up in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Minister Eric, was an easy winner in a Wednesday allowance race at Keeneland. With Alex Solis in the irons, the Old Trieste colt won by 4 1/2 lengths despite some concentration problems in the stretch. He covered 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.81. "The allowance races are easier than the stakes," said trainer Richard Mandella. "But this will be a good schedule for him."
-- Another son of Old Treiste, Treiste's Honor, was all out to win Saturday's $100,000 California Derby at Bay Meadows. After being forced four-wide with a furlong to go, Treiste's Honor got to the front at the top of the stretch and held on to beat Capitano by a neck. Dream Place was a distant third. Trieste's Honor, with Russell Baze up, ran 1 1/8 mile in 1:47.95. The colt is owned by Cobra Farm and trained by Mike Puype.
In other weekend racing:
Hawthorne Race Course
Ten Most Wanted, after rough trips in his last two outings, found smoother sailing in Saturday's $250,000 National Jockey Club Handicap and made the most of it. With David Flores in from California to sub for Pat Day, Ten Most Wanted settled near the middle of the six-horse field, moved up on the stretch turn and drew off in the lane to win by 6 3/4 lengths, handily. Ten Most Wanted, winner of last year's Illinois Derby over the same surface, was sent to the post at 1-5 odds. Colonial Colony was the best of the rest, with New York Hero third. "This was an easy race for him," Flores said. "This was more like a prep for him. He's probably headed to the Pimlico Special so I'm really happy with the way he performed today....This was the confidence builder he needed." After winning the Travers and the Super Derby last summer, Ten Most Wanted finished eighth in rough trip in the Breeders' Cup Classic, then started this year with a fifth-place finish in the New Orleans Handicap, also when being carried out in the first turn. He is a 4-year-old son of Deputy Commander.
Meteor Storm swung three-wide into the lane to take the lead in Sunday's $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Rhythm Mad. Runaway Dancer rallied from far back to finish third, another length back. Meteor Storm, a 5-year-old, British-bred son of Bigstone, ran the about 1 3/4 miles on firm turf in 2:45.98 with Jose Valdivia Jr. in the irons.
Also Sunday, Glick pressed the pace in the $100,000 San Simeon Handicap down the hillside turf course, then worked clear to win by 3/4 length over Cayoke. Summer Service was third under the wire. Glick, an 8-year-old son of Theatrical, finished the about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:12.46 with Alex Solis. "I got down on him only on the last part and he flew home," Solis said.
Megahertz found traffic at the top of the lane Saturday's $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap but got outside for running room and beat Noches De Rosa to the wire by 1 length. Mandela, a German-bred, was third. Megahertz, a 5-year-old, British-bred daughter of Pivotal, covered the 1 1/4 mile on firm turf in 2:00.71 for Solis. "As they say in my country, that was a no-brainer," Solis said. "If she's pointed in the right direction, she'll do the rest, she's so classy." Trainer Bobby Frankel said Megahertz may surface next in the $350,000 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 31.
The Lady's Groom dueled with odds-on favorite Unforgettable Max through most of Saturday's $150,000 Jim McKay Breeders' Cup Handicap before getting the upper hand. Once in the driver's seat, The Lady's Groom edged clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths, finishing 9 furlongs in 1:48.23. Irish Colony was third. Winning rider Horacio Karamanos said The Lady's Groom, a son of Mr. Greeley, responded very well under pressure when I asked him."
Passing Shot passed the whole field in Saturday's $150,000 Bed o'Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares. With Jose Santos up, the 5-year-old A.P. Indy mare broke last in the field of six, moved up quickly closer to the pace and waited until a hole opened on the rail. "When the hole was there, she went about her business," Santos said. "This proves that the race she won in Saratoga (last fall's Personal Ensign) was no fluke sand that she is a pretty nice filly." At the wire, Passing Shot was 2 1/4 lengths to the good of Smok'n Frolic, with Nonsuch Bay a head farther back in third and Victory Encounter only a nose behind her. The 1 mile took 1:35.50.
Intercontinental was wide the whole way in Sunday's $100,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes for fillies and mares but managed to overcome the extra distance, winning by 1 length over Ocean Drive. Madeira Mist raced between horses to get up for third. Intercontinental, a 4-year-old daughter of Danehill, got the 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:41.41.
Trainer Carl Nafzger told jockey Pat Day to go wide with Mayo On the Side in Friday's $100,000 Doubledogdare Stakes. But when the field hit the stretch, the hole was between horses and that's where Day steered Mayo On the Side. "That goes to show how much we know," Nafzger said after the filly went on to win. Cat Fighter was second and Roar Emotion, the pari-mutuel favorite, finished third. The 1 1/16 mile took 1:43.92.
Thursday, Prince Arch lagged early, then got the lead at midstretch and went on to win the $100,000 Forerunner Stakes by 5 3/4 lengths. Brass Hat was second and Big Booster finished third. Prince Arch, a son of Arch, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:48.64.
Chris's Bad Boy went to the post as the favorite in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Jacques Cartier Stakes and didn't disappoint his backers. The 7-year-old Marquetry gelding pressed the pace set by I'm the Tiger, then drew clear in the stretch run to win by 4 lengths. I'm the Tiger held second and Slim Dusty was third with an even trip. Chris's Bad Boy ran 6 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:08.75.
Sunday, Holy Bubbette made most of the running and won the $125,000 (Canadian) Whimsical Stakes for fillies and mares by a comfortable 2 3/4 lengths. Winter Garden was second and Mille Feville rallied from off the pace to take third. Holy Bubbette, a 4-year-old daughter of Holy Bull, ran 6 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:10.37.
Lone Star Park
Janeian staged a minor upset in Saturday's $75,000 Irving Distaff, rallying from a stalking position to take charge in the stretch and win by 4 lengths. Cat's Cat was a longshot second and the odds-on favorite, Bedanken, struggled home third after some early bumping. Janeian, a 6-year-old, New Zealand-bred mare by The Jogger, covered 7 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:28.24.
Danieltown went quickly to the lead in Saturday's $50,000 Golden Circle Stakes for 3-year-olds and was not seriously challenged, winning by 1 3/4 lengths. Jimmy Cracked Corn was second and Ruba Dub Dub was third. Danieltown is a Kentucky-bred son of Pioneering, trained by Bernie Flint for Stonerside Stable. Tim Doocy encouraged the gelding over 6 furlongs in 1:09.20.
Melody of Colors missed the start in Saturday's $50,000 Bob Slater Stakes for fillies and mares, worked her way into contention and was up in time to win by 1 length over the favorite, Desirable Moment. Formada was third. Melody of Colors, a 5-year-old mare by Concorde's Tune, ran the 5 grassy furlongs under Eibar Coa in 57.01 seconds.