Theoretically, the Coolmore Lexington Stakes represents a now or never situation for Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Horses that have failed to qualify for the first leg of the Triple Crown in horse racing can gain as many as 10 points in the standings in Lexington.
This year, the race could be anticlimactic from a Derby-qualifying standpoint.
None of the horses in the field of 11 have enough points to knock off the bubble horses or to displace any of the top 20 thoroughbreds. The only chance the horses in the field have to reach the Derby is if horses that have already qualified drop out.
Even with that bucket of cold water on the big picture, it's still a $200,000 event. That's a prize worth running for.
Here's how to catch the action.
When: Saturday, April 19 at 5:13 p.m. ET
Where: Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
TV: Television Games Network (TVG, check local listings)
- Mr Speaker (Jose Lezcano)
- Solitary Ranger (Florent Geroux)
- Dynamic Impact (Alan Garcia)
- Poker Player (Stewart Elliott)
- Z Lucky (Jon Court)
- Divine Oath (Javier Castellano)
- Ami’s Holiday (Robby Albarado)
- Ride Away (Julien Leparoux)
- Morning Calm (Joe Rocco Jr.)
- Supermonic (Joel Rosario)
- Global Strike (Irad Ortiz Jr.)
Horses to Watch
There's a lot that sits in Divine Oath's favor. He's being ridden by one of the most accomplished and experienced jockeys in recent memory in Castellano.
Also, the horse is undefeated in two lifetime starts on this track. Even though Divine Oath is smashed in the middle of the field with the sixth post position, no one should be too surprised to see him emerge as the victor.
He had back-to-back wins at Fair Grounds and Turfway Park. He has shown some inconsistency, including a ninth-place showing in the Spiral last month. But considering this field isn't littered with heavy hitters and because he has a favorable post position at No. 2, Solitary Ranger is a real threat in Lexington.
Look for Jose Lezcano to get Mr. Speaker off to a fast start. The first post position should alleviate any pressure early on, however, fading could be an issue.
This is the horse's first race over synthetic Polytrack. Because of that, it's hard to know how he will react to a somewhat foreign surface during race conditions.
Still, he's a legitimate threat to take home the prize.
Sometimes predictions aren't about an exact science—especially in horse racing. This is one of those instances. There's an argument to be made for Solitary Ranger's recent success, but Divine Oath's combination of success on the track and the man in the saddle is too much to ignore.
Call it a divine inclination, but he's my pick to win the Lexington Stakes.