Swipe faces nine in Lexington return

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

April 13th, 2016

Saturday's $150,000 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland is often seen as the last chance for Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls to qualify for the big dance on the first Saturday in May. However, for several of the 10 three-year-old colts in the field, it might be too little, too late.

Only 10 qualifying points are available to the winner of the 1 1/16-mile Lexington. Even if horses like Swipe, Collected or Riker were to win, their grand total of 20-22 points would still leave them on the outside looking in as far as Derby eligibility. The current cutoff point total to make the field is 32.

A little luck will be needed Saturday and over the next three weeks for any of these colts to make it into the Derby starting gate. That might be most frustrating for the fans of Swipe, who finished second to champion and current Derby favorite Nyquist four times last season. The Keith Desormeaux-trained son of Birdstone captured a 5 1/2-furlong stakes at Los Alamitos last July before earning the silver in the Best Pal (G2), Del Mar Futurity (G1), FrontRunner (G1), and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).

Setbacks over the winter delayed Swipe's return to the races, and a win in the Lexington appears essential for him to have any chance at joining stablemate Exaggerator, the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner, in the Derby lineup.

The connections of Collected might not be too serious about securing a Derby bid. Winner of the Sham (G3) in January, the colt next finished fourth as the favorite in the Southwest (G3), and then won the $415,000 Sunland Festival of Racing, a substitute for the canceled Sunland Derby (G3) which offered no Derby qualifying points.

Riker went undefeated in four starts over Polytrack at Woodbine last fall, including the Grey (G3). Sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) over Keeneland's turf in October, a share in the Include colt was purchased by Team Valor over the winter. In his first outing of the season, Riker showed speed before tiring to sixth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) March 12.

In addition to these three, the Lexington field includes the stakes-placed Synchrony, who left the Derby trail after a disappointing sixth in the Southwest, won by entrymate Suddenbreakingnews. Others that also might attract play are last-out maiden winners Big Squeeze and Lomcevak.

Earlier in the card, 10 older horses will travel nine furlongs in the $200,000 Ben Ali (G3). Among the favorites is last year's Stephen Foster H. (G1) winner Noble Bird, who will attempt to rebound off a poor sixth-place effort in his season debut in an Oaklawn allowance February 21.

Other notables multiple stakes winner Eagle and Are You Kidding Me, last year's champion older horse in Canada.

(Benoit Photos)