Lexington Stakes 2019: Odds and analysis

April 10, 2019 01:24pm
Lexington Stakes 2019: Odds and analysis
Photo: Vassar Photography

After some wild results, the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail comes to a close on Saturday. While Oaklawn Park runs the Arkansas Derby (G1), Keeneland will host a competitive renewal of its Grade 3, $200,000 Lexington Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. 

Because of its 20-8-4-2 point structure awarded to the Top 4 finishers, the Lexington can work as a race to help a bubble contender or two secure their Derby spots. In addition, some late-developing 3-year-olds could use this race as a warmup for the Preakness or other notable stakes.

The spotlight this time will fall on Anothertwistafate, who proved his ability to handle dirt with a runner-up finish in the Sunland Derby (G3). He also won the El Camino Real Derby in impressive fashion over synthetic at Golden Gate Fields. 

Keeneland carded the Lexington as its ninth race with post time set for 5:30 p.m. ET. Here's a look at the field with a projected morning line:

1. Shang, 15-1 (Shanghai Bobby – Steve Asmussen/Irad Ortiz Jr. – 5: 4-1-0): It is difficult to knock his consistency with five starts, four wins and one second-place finish. But the numbers speed-figure wise are not there. On a full-sized racetrack -- Delta Downs does not count -- his top TimeformUS Speed Figure is 94. Toss.

2. Hawaiian Noises, 15-1 (Super Saver – Wesley Ward/John Velazquez – 4: 3-0-0): With only one dirt start, he is hard to rate. He did overcome a slow pace to win last fall at Keeneland in a six-furlong race. Then, he competed on Turfway Park synthetic for his next two starts, taking the Animal Kingdom Stakes on March 9. Can he route on dirt, though? One of his siblings is the known sprinter Happy Like a Fool. Toss.

3. Sueno, 7/2 (Atreides – Keith Desormeaux/Corey Lanerie – 6: 2-2-2): Looking at his record, he always hits the board. He unexpectedly got a pressing trip in the Louisiana Derby (G2), which might explain why he had no punch in the stretch. Imagine if Lanerie opted to cover up on the rail instead and reserve some energy. In this spot, expect this reliable horse to return to a stalking trip behind faster rivals. From there, he will get first run on the turn. Win contender.

4. Anothertwistafate, 8-5 (Scat Daddy – Blaine Wright/Javier Castellano – 5: 3-1-0): As mentioned above, he erased all doubts about transferring his form to dirt by running credibly in the Sunland Derby, losing by a small margin to Cutting Humor and finishing in front of the Bob Baffert-trained Mucho Gusto. Anothertwistafate also showed a new dimension by sitting off horses. He does not need the lead. On the negative side, the hype is strong and the value is low. The top pick.

5. Harvey Wallbanger, 8-1 (Congrats – Kenneth McPeek/Brian Hernandez Jr. – 6: 2-3-0): His win in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) was a result of a pace collapse. When given nothing to run at in the Florida Derby (G1), he finished a non-threatening eighth. Granted, the pace could heat him here and give him a chance at coming late for the win, but he is more likely to come up short than post another upset. Use underneath.

6. Chase the Ghost, 20-1 (Ghostzapper – Dallas Stewart/Miguel Mena – 7: 1-2-0): Doubting a longshot wizard such as Dallas Stewart is not a good idea, but on paper this colt shows nothing credible. He ran a flat ninth in the Risen Star Stakes G2) and sixth in the Lecomte Stakes (G3). Until he improves, he is a pass. Toss.

7. Knicks Go, 12-1 (Paynter – Ben Colebrook/Albin Jimenez – 8: 2-1-1): Speedy colt failed to handle the Gotham Stakes (G3) pace and eventually finished seventh after Much Better set suicidal fractions. His overall form since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is also highly suspect, as he ran fifth in the Sam F. Davis (G3) and 11
in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). If the pace goes slower than expected, he might hang around long enough to take a piece. But his form is too ugly to bet. Toss.

8. Owendale, 20-1 (Into Mischief – Brad Cox/Florent Geroux – 7: 2-1-1): The Beyer Speed Figure team wildly overrated his Jan. 17 win, giving him a high 93. In contrast, TimeformUS awarded him a 96, which roughly equals a 76 Beyer when adjusting for the different scales. He later on ran up the track in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), finishing a woeful eighth. Toss.

9. Zenden, 8-1 (Fed Biz – Victor Barboza Jr./Tyler Gaffalione – 4: 2-1-0): The Tampa Bay Derby (G2) pace setter went too fast, throwing down blitzing fractions of 22.79, 45.85 and 1:09.57. With that said, he did well to hold fourth. This story sounds similar to Hidden Scroll. But in this case, the connections will probably let Zenden use his speed again, and maybe he will stick around again. Live Longshot.

10. Roiland, 12-1 (Successful Appeal – Tom Amoss/James Graham – 7: 2-1-1): This closer will never look like a major win contender. Yet, he always remains part of the discussion because he does not run bad enough to completely toss out. Once again, he is a threat to take advantage of any fast pace and clunk into the superfecta. Use underneath.

Anothertwistafate stands out, but he is not invincible. Remember, Cutting Humor did not run well in the Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn, yet he was able to defeat Anothertwistafate and Mucho Gusto at Sunland Park?

If Anothertwistafate throws a clunker for any reason, then Sueno looks like the best alternative as a horse with some tactical speed and proven class.

Those are the two main players in horizontal wagers.

Zenden deserves an upgrade to an upset candidate if the track appears speed biased. Otherwise, he is an underneath player who could help the exotics.

Obviously, closers such as Harvey Wallbanger and Roiland are usable underneath as well. Neither of them are that exciting, but they are not bad enough to ignore. They only need to pick off tired horses and clunk into third or fourth late.


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