Kentucky Derby Contenders Could Emerge from Lexington Stakes

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Kentucky Derby Contenders Could Emerge from Lexington Stakes
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s Grade 3 $200,000 Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland is one of two “Wild-Card” races for the new points system for determining the starting field for the 139th Kentucky Derby.

And the connections of both Cerro and Sunbean could be Louisville bound with a victory in the race.

The Lexington winner earns 20 points, which currently would put the runner right on the bubble to make it into the starting field for the Run for the Roses.

The Team Valor-owned Cerro, who was sixth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth in his last outing, is toying around with the idea of going to the Derby, although a strong performance likely would send the colt to the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico two weeks after the Derby.

The connections of Sunbean, a multiple stakes winner against Louisiana-breds has also not ruled out a run and could end up pushing into the Kentucky Derby odds discussion.

The Mike Maker-trainee had a rough trip in an eighth-place finish in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in his last outing at Fair Grounds on March 30.

Currently, there are three horses sitting with 20 points, which is good for 20th in the point standings. They are Charming Kitten, Code West and Tiz a Minister.

If two or more horses have the same number of points, the tiebreaker to get into the Kentucky Derby will be earnings in non-restricted stakes races, whether they are graded or not.

Currently, Charming Kitten leads the trio with $206,000, and would get the nod over Code West ($90,000) and Tiz a Minister ($81,000).

The last Lexington winner to turnaround and win the Kentucky Derby was the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Charismatic in 1999. The last Lexington winner to come back two weeks later in the Derby was Derby Kitten, who checked in 13th in his bid to win the Run for the Roses.

Verrazano continues to top the Derby futures leaderboard and will go off as the morning line favorite, barring any setbacks or surprises.

Grade 3 $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (Post time 5:13 ET)

1. Winning Cause, J. Leparoux

2. Pick of the Litter, J. Castanon

3. River Rocks, J. Graham

4. Hip Four Sixtynine, G. Saez

5. Where’s Dominic, E. Prado

6. Sunbean, G. Stevens

7. Examen, G. Gomez

8. Cerro, J. Rosario

9. Wings of Fortune, C. Borel

10. General Election, J. Rocco Jr.

11. Pure Fun, R. Napravnik

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