The $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G2) at Keeneland is the last graded stakes race for 3-year-olds before the Kentucky Derby, making it the last chance for Triple Crown hopefuls to collect enough graded stakes earnings to make the 20-horse field at Churchill Downs. Ten went to the gate in this 1 1/16 mile main track feature, with allowance winner Showing Up sent off as the 3-2 favorite in his first career start in a stakes race. Also in the field was 4-1 second choice Like Now, winner of the Gotham and the Frank Capossela Stakes at Aqueduct, and 5-1 third choice Greeley's Legacy, seventh in the Wood Memorial in his last start.
Like Now and 8-1 shot Fast Parade battled on the front end around the
clubhouse turn through a quarter in 23.37 and a half in 46.85. 39-1 longest
shot Bear Character tucked in behind them to stalk the pace in third. After
3/4 in 1:12.08, Fast Parade faded out of contention while jockey Cornelio
Velasquez was just getting favorite Showing Up into his best stride. At the
top of the stretch, Bear Character poked a head in front but Showing Up was
closing well in the four path. Showing Up ran right by Bear Character and
Like Now to win the Lexington going away by 1 1/4 lengths in a time of
1:46.42. Like Now outfinished Bear Character in the final strides to take
second by a neck. It was 3 lengths back from Bear Character to Greeley's
Legacy in fourth.
Results chart from DRF
Winning trainer Barclay Tagg said, "I thought in a perfect scenario the two speed horses would go out and we would be camping on their heels. I thought he wasn't going to run and it was going to be a disaster, but Cornelio (Velasquez) said he had plenty of horse and he was just cruising. He knew more about him than I did. It's hard to tell through binoculars. He manages to handle things smoothly and he's an absolute pleasure to train."
Asked if he will send Showing Up to the Derby, Tagg said, "There's only two weeks before the Kentucky Derby and he's not a big, robust horse. He has to be in tip-top condition; I'm not going to put him into a tough race. Probably good judgment and good sense would say not to run, but there is only one Kentucky Derby and he's done everything we've asked of him, so you think you have to give him a chance." Tagg will bring the colt back to Belmont Park and see how he came out of the race before deciding whether to go on to Churchill Downs.
Winning jockey Cornelio Velasquez said, "I love my horse. He ran big today. He had a little trouble the last quarter, but I put him in the clear. I had a lot of horse."