by Brian Nadeau of Horseplayer Now and Capital OTB TV.
Keeneland: The GIII, $150,000 Lexington at 1 1/16 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points 10-4-2-1)
While this year’s Lexington likely won’t send anyone to the Kentucky Derby, as no one can secure a berth with a win, there’s some intrigue, as a few classy runners from major barns take on some young, up-and-coming bluebloods. It took longer than expected, but Godolphin’s #2 DIRECT MESSAGE finally broke through with a dominant – and fast – MSW win at Gulfstream Park last time, so from a nice inside, ground-saving draw, the son of Bernardini has every right to double up for Tom Albertrani and give the boys in blue a “now” horse for the Preakness; upset special. There’s little doubt that the classy, battle-tested #4 SWIPE is the horse to beat, regardless of the October layoff, as he’s been chasing champion and Derby favorite Nyquist to little avail in his last four starts, but he got as close to that freak as anyone, and the son of Birdstone has worked well for Keith Desormeaux and lays over this field on class; clearly the one to deny. There’s plenty of speed signed on, so while it’s against the track profile to use a deep closer, #5 SYNCHRONY has a big stretch kick, and the son of Tapit enters fresh for Von Hemel and has a license to pass a lot of wobblers in the lane; looms large late. The draw did no favors for #10 COLLECTED, who could be hung out to dry on the first turn and has made a penchant of beating up on lesser this winter, which includes his win in a Sunland stakes last time, so while he can certainly win this, taking a short price on this Baffert-trained son of City Zip just isn’t the right way to make a buck; underneath only.