The Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland is the final Kentucky Derby prep of the season. It’s the last chance for 3-year-olds to earn Derby points and clinch spots in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
The Lexington offers 20 points to the winner. A few horses could get into the Derby field with a win here, which makes it worth your attention. Let’s see if we can parlay that attention into a nice score.
A beatable Lexington favorite
The 11-horse field is headlined by No. 9 Tawny Port, who most recently ran second in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks. With 40 Derby points, he needs just a top-four finish to get to the Kentucky Derby, but I think he’s vulnerable.
The great Harvey Pack always said, “Never bet a horse, as the favorite, to do something it’s never done before.” Tawny Port has never won on dirt. His lone dirt try was a distant fifth in the Grade 2 Risen Star. Winner Epicenter was impressive, but it’s not like Tawny Port was ever a threat.
It’s possible Tawny Port is just better than these horses. At anywhere close to his 5-2 morning line price, though, I’ll try to beat him.
One more chance for In Due Time
No. 2 In Due Time’s last race was the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, where he finished second. It was a chaotic event, one where two horses went down after In Due Time came off the rail looking for running room (thankfully, horses and riders all came out fine).
Still, In Due Time showed plenty of talent in his first start around two turns. He draws favorably here and has flashed enough tactical speed to where he should sit a dream trip. If he’s not favored here come post time, I’ll be very happy, as I think he’s the one to beat.
Betting strategies for the Lexington
Anything close to the 3-1 morning line price on In Due Time hits me as an overlay. The biggest bet I’ll make will be on that one to win.
I’ll also play small exactas using him above and below two others. It’s entirely possible that No. 7 Major General needed his last-out effort in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. He was totally empty that day, and I think he’s better than what he showed.
Additionally, No. 8 Strava has yet to run a bad race. He broke his maiden in his debut here last October, ran second in his return and was third behind eventual Grade 1 Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife last time out. He’s working well, and while I’m not sure we’ll get the 20-1 morning line price, I do think he’s a potential value play.
- $20 win: 2
- $3 exactas: 2 w/7, 8
- $2 exactas: 7, 8 w/2