Keeneland: The GIII, $200,000 Lexington at 1 1/16 miles(Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 20–8-4-2)
by Brian Nadeau
While the Lexington has lost some luster in recent years, this year’s renewal could be the gateway to the Kentucky Derby for more than a few who are perilously close to the points bubble and looking to get over the hump. While today’s short finish line is never ideal for closers, #5 HARVEY WALLBANGER (7-2)handled it just fine when he got a pace meltdown and won the GII Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in February for McPeek, and that’s the type of scenario this son of Congrats could see play out again today, as he looks to erase a no-chance 8th in a paceless GI Florida Derby at GP last time. There’s little doubt that #4 ANOTHERTWISTAFATE (2-1) is the horse to beat off a fine 2nd in the GIII Sunland Derby last time, and a win gets him to Louisville for Wright, though this son of Scat Daddy runs the risk of getting fried by what looks like a very energetic early pace. The class test looms for #1 SHANG (10-1), who has beaten up on Louisiana breds for Asmussen and looked good rolling in the Fair Grounds’ Crescent City Derby last month, and this Shanghai Bobby colt is another who should be able to take advantage of the hot splits. The post won’t help #10 Roiland (15-1), a Successful Appeal colt who has middling stakes for at best, but he did close from the clouds to be 3rd in FG’s GII Risen Star two-back for Amoss, and is another who will be running on through the lane.
#5 Harvey Wallbanger
Photo: Brian Hernandez Jr & Harvey Wallbanger. Gulfstream Park photo.