Keeneland’s Grade II, $300,000 Coolmore Lexington at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack offers the final major stop on the road to the 135th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, with a possible field of 11 hopefuls set to battle for the chance at a berth in the Run for the Roses on Saturday, May 2.

One horse that isn’t concerned with the money involved is SQUARE EDDIE, who has more than enough to make the gate. The concern of owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill is getting the colt fit enough to run in the Churchill Downs classic, the first jewel of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. The son of Smart Strike has been away from the races with shin problems since finishing second to The Pamplemousse Jan. 17 in Santa Anita’s Grade III San Rafael Stakes.

O’Neill and Reddam have watched the colt come back into training acting like he hasn’t missed a beat, encouraging them to give him a race in the Lexington to prepare him for a run in the Derby. At one point, the trainer considered training him up to the Derby without another prep. SQUARE EDDIE debuted in the United States Oct. 4 with a victory in Keeneland’s Grade I Breeders Futurity and followed that with a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Oak Tree at Santa Anita later that month.

He has completed two sharp 6-furlong workouts in the past two weeks to earn the Lexington start.

Among those tackling SQUARE EDDIE are a couple of prospects – JERANIMO and PARADE CLOWN – who have a small amount of graded stakes earnings and could move onto to the starter’s list with a win in the Lexington. The winner’s portion of the purse is $180,000.

Heading to the Lexington, also, are CONSERVATIVE, MYTHICAL POWER, MASALA, EL CRESPO, ADVICE, HULL, OMNISCIENT and PORT CANAVERAL, all of whom could be in the Derby gate with a victory.


GENERAL QUARTERS, PAPA CLEM DERBY-BOUND – The picture for the Kentucky Derby field has been brought into sharper focus as the result of Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby. General Quarters and perhaps three others from the Blue Grass and Papa Clem and maybe two others from the Arkansas Derby appear to be on their way to the starting gate on May 2.

A 20-horse field continues to look possible, though one who figured to be there and who had been one of the early favorites – OLD FASHIONED – will be going to surgery instead. The Unbridled’s Song colt sustained a slab fracture of his right knee during the Arkansas Derby. The injury most likely will end his racing career.

Those probably joining the weekend winners are HOLD ME BACK, TERRAIN and MAFAAZ from the Blue Grass and WIN WILLY and FLYING PRIVATE from the Arkansas Derby.

Already in line to go to the Derby – money-wise – are PIONEEROF THE NILE, FRIESAN FIRE, I WANT REVENGE, DESERT PARTY, REGAL RANSOM, QUALITY ROAD, MUSKET MAN, WEST SIDE BERNIE, CHOCOLATE CANDY, SQUARE EDDIE and GIANT OAK. Those on the bubble and at the mercy of Saturday’s activity are DUNKIRK, MR. HOT STUFF, CHARITABLE MAN and THEREGOESJOJO. The latter two ran poorly in the Blue Grass and appear unlikely to make the Derby.