It would appear at first glance, the Lexington to be run at Keeneland on Saturday is a meaningless Kentucky Derby prep race as there is only 34 qualifying points available.
The 20 points for first is not going to be able to get a horse with no current points into a starting gate in the Derby. But looking deeper into the race unveils a pair of horses that could move on with a win, or in one of their cases, a second place finish.
Proxy (34 points) sits in the bubble spot of Derby qualifiers at No. 20, with Hockey Dad sitting at 20 points.
If Hockey Dad wins and Proxy runs second, then both may make it into the Kentucky Derby field.
The race is the 9th on the Keeneland card and should go off around 2:30 p.m. PDT.
Here are some of the runners.
Proxy (Michael Stidham/John Velazquez/6-5) ran in the three prep races at the Fair Grounds, finishing second in the Lecomte and the Risen Star before a disappointing fourth in the Louisiana Derby on March 20. It was a result that has the horse entered back here on three weeks rest to try to secure a spot in the Derby. The horse has suffered a bad bump in the last three starts and a clean break here is a must to contend.
Hockey Dad (Doug O’Neill/Mario Gutierrez/8-1) picked his 20 qualifying points with a third in the Jeff Ruby just two weeks ago and has the connections entering here off the short break in hopes of getting a win and a spot in the Derby. It was the first stakes race for the horse that has three wins in five starts, two coming in optional claiming events. Remember these connections have won the Derby twice – 2012 I’ll Have Another and 2016 Nyquist – so they know what it takes to get there.
Bezos (Baffert/Drayden Van Dyke/8-1) may be the horse drawing the most attention despite having no qualifying points. Insiders felt that this might be the best 3-year-old in Baffert’s barn, but a disappointing seventh in his debut, beaten 15-lengths in February left many scratching their heads.
The horse did come back and win by four lengths March 26 in another straight maiden race at one mile.
This might be one of those late bloomers for Baffert. If he wins and runs well, this could be one we’ll see in either the Preakness or Belmont. The jury is still out and there’s no doubt there will be a lot of eyes on this runner.
Swiftsure (Steve Asmussen/Irad Ortiz/5-1) The connections say here is another horse to watch down the line. Two starts have produced two, 3-plus length wins. The question is can he handle the distance as both starts have come at six furlongs.
By Dennis Miller