J. Paul Reddam’s Square Eddie, winner of last fall’s Grade 1 Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity here, tops a field of 12 entered Wednesday for Saturday’s 28th running of the $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G2) at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track.
Trained by Doug O’Neill, Square Eddie will break from post position eight under Edgar Prado and share top weight of 123 pounds with El Crespo. Prado took the 2003 running of the Coolmore Lexington aboard Scrimshaw.
Donamire Farm’s Parade Clown is the other stakes winner in the field. Trained by Katherine Ball, Parade Clown won the February 7 WEBN Stakes at Turfway Park. Julien Leparoux has the mount Saturday and will break from post position 10.
The field for the Coolmore Lexington, from the rail out, is as follows: Jeranimo (B. Blanc, 117 pounds), Omniscient (R. Albarado, 117), Pitched Perfectly (A. Garcia, 117), Brave Victory (J. Velazquez, 117), His Greatness (R. Douglas, 117), Masala (E. Coa, 117), Conservative (K. Desormeaux, 117), Square Eddie (E. Prado, 123), El Crespo (J. Castellano, 123), Parade Clown (J. Leparoux, 117), Advice (G. Gomez, 117) and Hull (M. Mena, 117).
ESPN2 will broadcast live coverage of the Coolmore Lexington (G2) from 5 - 6 p.m. ET on Saturday.
OVERFLOW FIELD OF 14 ENTERED FOR GIANT’S CAUSEWAY
A total of eight multiple stakes winners passed the entry box Wednesday for Saturday’s 13th running of the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up going 5 ½ furlongs on the turf.
Heading the list is Lyon Stable’s Genuine Devotion (IRE), winner of last summer’s Grade 3 Locust Grove at a mile on the turf at Churchill Downs. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Genuine Devotion has two turf sprint stakes wins on her resume and she will be making her first start since the Locust Grove.
Alan Garcia has the mount on Genuine Devotion and will break from post position 11.
The other graded stakes winner in the field is Team Valor International’s Jazzy (ARG), who took the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom on dirt at Belmont Park in September 2007. Third in the Giant’s Causeway last year, Jazzy will break from post position 12 under John Velazquez.
The field for the Giant’s Causeway, from the hedge out, is as follows: Mrs Petoski (J. Felix, 118 pounds), Kosmo’s Buddy (E. Coa, 121), Ride Em Cowgirl (E. Prado, 118), Marina Ballerina (R. Douglas, 118), Diamondrella (GB) (R. Maragh, 121), Bahama Mama (IRE) (K. Desormeaux, 118), Lady Chace (M. Mena, 118), Classify (S. Bridgmohan, 121), Just for Keeps (J. Leparoux, 118), Coy Cat (R. Albarado, 121), Genuine Devotion (IRE) (A. Garcia, 118) and Jazzy (ARG) (J. Velazquez, 118). Also-eligibles are Taletobetold (C. Lanerie, 118) and Megadeed (B. Hernandez, 118).
SQUARE EDDIE RETURNS TO SCENE OF GREATEST TRIUMPH
On Wednesday, J. Paul Reddam’s Square Eddie spent his first morning back at Keeneland since October by jogging a half-mile and then galloping a mile and a half under exercise rider Tony Romero.
Winner of last fall’s Grade 1 Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity, the Doug O’Neill trainee arrived at Keeneland on Tuesday afternoon for a run in Saturday’s 28th running of the Grade 2 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track.
“Three months ago, I would not have been surprised to be here; two months ago, yes,” O’Neill said of Square Eddie, who had an injury to his left front shin discovered on February 2. “His past two works (six-furlong moves of 1:12.20 on April 11 and 1:13 on April 5 at Hollywood Park) have been exceptional, signaling to us that he is ready to get back at it.”
After his victory in the Breeders’ Futurity, Square Eddie closed 2008 with a runner-up finish to Midshipman in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and opened 2009 with a second-place finish in the one-mile San Rafael (G3) behind The Pamplemousse. After his first work back after the San Rafael, the injury was discovered and Square Eddie went on the shelf for a month, not returning to the work tab until March 22.
With $774,981 in graded stakes earnings, Square Eddie has enough money in the bank to secure a spot in the starting gate for the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). The Coolmore Lexington will determine if he takes the next step.
“I would want to see a really good effort and have him come out of it in good shape,” O’Neill said. “Then we would huddle with Team Reddam (about going on to Louisville).”
One thing O’Neill would do differently with Square Eddie is he would take him to Churchill Downs instead of staying here as he did two years ago with Great Hunter, who had finished fifth in the Toyota Blue Grass (G1) and then ran 13th in the Derby. Both Great Hunter and Liquidity, who finished 14th in the Derby, had their final pre-Derby works at Keeneland.
“We would probably go on over,” O’Neill said. “We did not have the best of luck two years ago and probably did not have the right weapons.”
PENDER HOPES JERANIMO SECURES KENTUCKY DERBY BID
For trainer Michael Pender, the math concerning a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1) for Jeranimo is relatively simple.
“This year, you pretty much have to win it (the Grade 2 Coolmore Lexington) to go on,” said Pender, who trains Jeranimo for owner B.J. Wright. “The Derby has always been on our radar.”
But with only four career starts and $24,000 in graded stakes earnings, Jeranimo is running out of time to get that target directly in focus. The Coolmore Lexington winner will get $186,000; the runner-up $60,000.
Jeranimo did not race as a 2-year-old.
“He is a powerfully built colt and we didn’t want to rush him,” Pender said.
In four races at Santa Anita, Jeranimo posted a 1-1-2 record, breaking his maiden in his second start and finishing third behind Pioneerof the Nile in the Grade 2 San Felipe in his most recent start on March 14.
“His seven-furlong work on April 1 at Santa Anita (1:25.80), he did in hand and was really impressive and that kind of signaled that we should come here,” said Pender, who never has saddled a horse at Keeneland. “He has had a good 30 days between races.”
Brice Blanc, who has ridden Jeranimo in his past three starts, will have the mount Saturday.
Jeranimo worked a half-mile at Santa Anita in :49 on Monday, shipped here Tuesday and galloped on the main track Wednesday morning.
“He shipped well. It was his first time and I think he liked flying,” Pender said.
If Jeranimo comes through in flying colors and does not have to go all out to get a victory on Saturday, Pender will quickly order up a van ride 80 miles west to Churchill Downs.
“Probably the quicker the better,” Pender said of getting Jeranimo on dirt. “His daddy (Congaree) was the king of Aqueduct, so his pedigree says he will handle the dirt.”
Trainer Bill Mott said WinStar Farm LLC’s Hold Me Back, second to General Quarters in the Toyota Blue Grass (G1), would ship to Churchill Downs sometime next week for the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Mott said the Giant’s Causeway colt, who galloped on the training track on Wednesday morning, would not work at Keeneland before he heads to Louisville and would receive his final work for the Derby at Churchill.
Mott was pleased with Hold Me Back’s effort in the Toyota Blue Grass, in which the colt broke from post 10 in the 11-horse field with Kent Desormeaux aboard. Racing six wide on the final turn, Hold Me Back picked off rivals down the stretch to finish 1½ lengths behind General Quarters
“It was a good race,” Mott said. “Naturally, we would have liked to have won, but the effort was certainly credible.”
Mott said no decision had been made on the next race for Circle E Racing’s Mr. Sidney, who won the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland last Friday.
Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.’s Charitable Man returned to the track for the first time since finishing seventh in last Saturday’s Toyota Blue Grass.
“He jogged this morning, first day back, and looked great,” said Neal McLaughlin, assistant to his brother, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
No final decision has been made regarding Charitable Man’s possible participation in the Kentucky Derby.
McLaughlin also said that both Justwhistledixie and Fitz Just Right would work Friday morning. Both fillies are owned by West Point Thoroughbreds.
Justwhistledixie, winner of five consecutive starts including Grade 2 scores in the Bonnie Miss and Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park, is considered definite for the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (G1). Fitz Just Right ran second in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks in her most recent start on March 21.
“She is training so well,” McLaughlin said about Fitz Just Right. “We were hoping to go to the Black-Eyed Susan (Grade 2 on May 15 at Pimlico) with a fresh horse, but she is doing so well, you have to take a look at it (the Oaks).”
Shadwell Stable’s Mafaaz (GB), eighth in the Toyota Blue Grass, galloped on the training track. Although Mafaaz is guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate by virtue of his victory in the Kentucky Derby Challenge last month at Kempton Park in England, no decision has been made on whether the colt will go on to Louisville.
“I know Sheikh Hamdan (al Maktoum) is in England, so there may be a decision today,” said Les Reynolds, head traveling lad for trainer John Gosden. Gosden returned to England immediately after the Toyota Blue Grass.
Stardom Bound galloped Wednesday morning at Keeneland under Michelle Nevin. The 2008 Eclipse Award winner as champion 2-year-old filly had her streak of five consecutive Grade 1 victories snapped with a third-place finish in the April 4 Ashland (G1).
Katierich Stables’ Your Round worked a half-mile in :48 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02 in preparation for a run in Sunday’s Grade 3 Ben Ali. Also working toward the Ben Ali was Courtlandt Farms’ Adriano, who worked a half-mile in :49 and galloped out in 1:02 with jockey Julien Leparoux up.
KEENELAND TEAMS WITH JOCKEYS’ GUILD TO HOST FUNDRAISERS FOR THE PERMANENTLY DISABLED JOCKEYS FUND
Jockey Autograph Session & Riders Up! Highlight Friday
Keeneland will host two fundraisers for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund on Friday.
Fans can meet current and retired members of Keeneland’s riding colony during an autograph session from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. adjacent to the paddock. Such Hall of Fame jockeys as Pat Day, Angel Cordero Jr., Gary Stevens, Steve Cauthen, Jerry Bailey, Earlie Fires and Bobby Ussery are scheduled to participate.
On Friday evening, Keeneland jockeys and retired riding legends will get a chance to perform for a good cause during Riders Up!, a karaoke-style talent competition at the Keeneland Entertainment Center. The event will be hosted by Lexington’s own Tony Award-nominated actress Laura Bell Bundy, and judged by a celebrity panel including Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry. Tickets are $50 each and include a Bayou Meets the Bluegrass Buffet.
Tickets for the event are available through advance purchase only at jockeysguild.com.