In the 44 years since the Lexington Stakes (G3) was re-introduced as a Kentucky Derby prep race, it has produced just two winners of the Run for the Roses — Swale in 1984 and Charismatic in 1999. Worse, since 1997, seven editions of the race received a failing mark (F) on my prep race grading scale, including this year’s renewal. This is significant because, during that same time period, no horse exiting an F-rated prep has won the Derby — in 71 attempts.
Bob Baffert is obviously hoping that 2017 proves to be the exception.
The Hall of Fame conditioner will saddle West Coast in Saturday’s Keeneland feature. A deserving morning line favorite, the son of Flatter will be seeking his second straight score, while attempting to get Baffert into the Lexington winner’s circle for the second consecutive year. Last year, Baffert won the Lexington with Collected, who recently ran Dortmund into retirement in the Santana Mile.
In a race without much pace (-4 projected early speed ration), West Coast should get good position heading into the first turn despite his wide draw, as he has shown a fair amount of early foot.
Below is a complete look at the field:
1-RESILIENCY (6-1 morning line odds)
Won his last race in optional claiming company and has a strong late kick. He should get a dream trip tucked in behind the early leaders and is a strong contender to give trainer Steve Asmussen his second Lexington triumph (he also won in 2004 with Quintons Gold Rush).
FAIR ODDS: 9-2
2-SOUPER TAPIT (10-1)
Son of Tapit has been well bet in each of his two career starts, but disappointed last time against lesser foes and faces a challenging pace scenario on Saturday.
FAIR ODDS: 12-1
3-SENIOR INVESTMENT (6-1)
Ran poorly in the Louisiana Derby (G2), but his solid late speed rations make him a contender here.
FAIR ODDS: 8-1
4-NO DOZING (4-1)
This guy has been a major disappointment this year. After a runner-up performance in last year’s Remsen, which has proven to be of dubious quality despite its grade II status, No Dozing checked in sixth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, before rebounding — slightly — and finishing a well-beaten fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at that same track on March 11. He definitely has the ability to win this, but I’d insist on a good price.
FAIR ODDS: 9-2
5-TIME TO TRAVEL (4-1)
Tries a distance of ground for the first time after a wire-to-wire maiden win going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park on April 1. Trainer Michael Matz is not great moving from sprints to routes, but my greatest concern regarding Time to Travel is the fact that he had a very easy trip last time—and I’m not sure that will be the case this weekend.
FAIR ODDS: 6-1
6-CONVICT PIKE (8-1)
Dons blinkers and tries dirt for the first time since Sept. 16. George Arnold trainee ran well in the Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway, but the pace figures in that race were abysmal and I need to see more.
FAIR ODDS: 12-1
7-CAPT. GRIDER (50-1)
This horse has beaten exactly two horses in his last three starts. If he wins on Saturday, I’d be on the lookout for flying pigs.
FAIR ODDS: 99-1
8-HE’S MUNNIE (20-1)
He looks a little slow, but Saturday’s pace should be in his favor; one to consider at the right price.
FAIR ODDS: 15-1
9-LOOKIN AT BLESSING (15-1)
This guy is 0-for-5 since leaving the maiden ranks and would be a surprise if he wins on Saturday.
FAIR ODDS: 30-1
10-WEST COAST (3-1)
Deserving favorite will attempt to salvage trainer Bob Baffert’s Triple Crown season. His speed and pace figures are solid and he should get a great trip either on or just off the pace.
FAIR ODDS: 5-2