Road to the Kentucky Derby: Lexington Stakes

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Road to the Kentucky Derby: Lexington Stakes
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Kentucky Derby 149 is three weeks away and the field is pretty much set, except for a few fringe players.

One of the last remaining spots will be determined on Saturday in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, the final points race in the Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying series. The 20 horses with the most points earn automatic entry into the Run for the Roses on May 6 at Churchill Downs.

The Lexington is a minor prep that awards only 20 points to the winner and 8-6-4-2 points for second through fifth place. So only horses already on the points bubble can still earn their way into the Derby field. So this race could finalize the field and give you some long shots for your Kentucky Derby betting.

The main player in the Lexington is Disarm, who has 40 Derby points and is 26th on the points leaderboard. He needs a third-place finish or better in the Lexington to ensure a top-20 spot and make it to Churchill Downs. 

The minimum number of points needed to qualify is 45 heading into the Lexington, a higher cutoff than in previous years and more than twice as many as final qualifier Rich Strike (21 points) earned in 2022. Rich Strike went on to post a shocking upset in the Derby at 80-1 odds.

Florida Derby winner Forte (190 points) sits atop the leaderboard and will be the morning-line favorite when Kentucky Derby entries are taken on May 1. Santa Anita Derby winner Practical Move and Arkansas Derby winner Angel of Empire should also attract plenty of betting support.


Current 2023 Kentucky Derby Qualifier Standings

Rank HorsePoints Earnings
1 Forte 190 $2,359730
2 Practical Move 160 $822,000
3 Angel of Empire 154 $1,026,375
4 Tapit Trice 150 $783,500
5 Two Phil’s 123 $643,850
6 Lord Miles 105 $427,100
7 Derma Sotogake 100 $1,112,319
8 Kingsbarns 100 $600,000
9 Raise Cain 54 $204,750
10 Rocket Can 60 $284,025
11 Hit Show 60 $277,500
12 Confidence Game 57 $610,480
13 Verifying 54 $369,750
14 Sun Thunder 54 $181,500
15 Wild On Ice 50 $366,400
16 Mage 50 $205,200
17 Blazing Sevens 46 $507,500
18 Reincarnate 45 $263,250
19 Jace’s Road 45 $200,350
20 Skinner 45 $174,500



Lexington Stakes

Date: Saturday, April 15, 2023

Track: Keeneland Race Course, Lexington, Kentucky

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Purse: $400,000

Lexington Stakes Field

Position HorseTrainer RiderOdds
1 Baseline Beater Neal Pessin Corey Lanerie 20-1
2 Reinvest Timothy Hamm Joe Talamo 30-1
3 Demolition Duke Brad Cox Flavien Prat 6-1
4 Transect Paulo Lobo Gerardo Corales 30-1
5 First Mission Brad Cox Luis Saez3-5
6 Disarm Steve Asmussen Jose Ortiz 7-2
7 Denington Ken McPeek Brian Hernandez Jr.20-1
8 Empirestrikesfast Bill Mott Lanfranco Dettori4-1
9 Prairie Hawk Saffie Joseph Jr. John Velazquez15-1
10 Curly Larry and Mo Calo Caramori Reylu Gutierrez50-1
11 Arabian Lion Bob Baffert Irad Ortiz Jr.7-2


Lexington Stakes Analysis

In terms of Kentucky Derby impact, not much to see here. Only Disarm has a chance to Run for the Roses with a top-3 finish.

That result is not guaranteed in a race with several potential win options. Among them is the Bob Baffert-trained Arabian Lion, who ships in from Southern California. Because Baffert is suspended from Churchill Downs, Arabian Lion is ineligible to receive Derby points. In this case, that doesn’t matter because Arabian Lion is short on points and no longer a potential Derby entry.

Trainer Brad Cox, who could have four horses in the Derby, has a pretty good second team in the Lexington. Cox has entered Demolition Duke and First Mission, both of whom have a win and a second in two career starts.

Baseline Beater, Transect, Denington and Prairie Hawk are all coming out of off-the-board finishes in Derby preps.

Let's get you ready for your horse race betting with our selections.

Lexington Stakes Selections

1. First Mission finished second in his career debut at the Fair Grounds in February, yet ran the highest speed figure of any horse in the Lexington field. First Mission followed that up with a dominating maiden victory at the same distance of this race. Takes a big step up in class here, but is fast enough to win this. His tactical speed is a plus.

2. Originally thought of as a serious Derby contender, Arabian Lion has disappointed in his last two starts, finishing fourth and fifth in California preps. He was forwardly placed in both races, but weakened late. He has faced far better competition than most of his Lexington rivals, but still needs to prove he can handle two-turn races.  

3. Demolition Duke, like First Mission, is lightly raced with plenty of potential. He will run from further back in the pack and would benefit if the early pace is swift.

Lexington Stakes Betting Strategy

Straight wagers on First Mission. Exacta bets with First Mission on top of Arabian Lion and Demolition Duke. For trifectas, add Disarm, Denington and Baseline Beater underneath.

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Chet Fussman

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