Lexington Stakes could change 2012 Kentucky Derby starters

Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky

We are coming down to the wire for 2012 Kentucky Derby prep races. The $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday, April 21 could have implications on the graded stakes earnings of Derby contenders and change who actually gets to start in the 2012 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5. The Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct is also on Saturday and offers graded stakes earnings but there are not any Derby contenders in the field of 7.

Like the Derby, the Lexington Stakes starting field limited to 20 horses with preference given based on earnings in graded stakes. The $120,000 first place money could elevate some into Derby consideration. There are 11 horses that past the entry box on Wednesday.

The Lexington Stakes starters that could benefit from the graded stakes earnings (grs) in the Lexington include Southwest Stakes winner Castaway ($162,000 in grs), Illinois Derby runner-up Morgan’s Gorilla ($100,000 in gse), Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth runner-up News Pending ($80,000 in gse) and Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Golden Ticket ($70,000 in gse).

The lineup for the Lexington Stakes in post-position order with their jockeys is: Morgan’s Guerrilla, Julien Leparoux; Summer Front, Ramon Dominguez; Johannesbourbon, Garrett Gomez; Skyring, Jon Court; Golden Ticket, Manny Cruz; Holiday Promise, Junior Alvarado; Castaway, Shaun Bridgmohan; Hammers Terror, Robby Albarado; All Squared Away, Julio Garcia; News Pending, Kent Desormeaux and Gold Megillah, John Velazquez.

The Lexington has a post-time Saturday of 5:15 PM (ET) and will be on HRTV and TVG.

The last Lexington Stakes winner to go on to win the Kentucky Derby was the Bob Baffert trained Charismatic in 1999.

There will be one more race after this weekend that could impact the top 20 entrants for the Derby. The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial on April 28 (opening day) at Churchill Downs in Louisville could add graded stakes earnings to the winner. But keep in mind that the Derby Trial is only 7 days before the 2012 Kentucky Derby and there might not be enough graded stakes earnings depending on how many horses enter the race. Only a hand full of horses have won the Derby Trial and gone on to win the Kentucky Derby – Black Gold in 1924, Citation in 1948, Hill Gail in 1952, Dark Star in 1943, and Tim Tam in 1958. Most owners and trainers are now using the Derby Trial as a prep race for the Preakness Stakes as it allows 3 week between races.