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Wide-open field, no Strong Contender

Thursday, March 23, 2006 12:00 AM
  • Spiral Stakes
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 23, 2006 . . . After weeks of speculation and strategy, the $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes roster stabilized Thursday as post positions were drawn at the Call to the Post luncheon.

With the race closing with 13 entries, the 12 available spots were determined by earnings, and the horse that likely would have been the favorite, Strong Contender, found himself in the 13th spot—excluded by $2,650 from the race to which trainer John Ward had been pointing for a month. The result is a wide-open field that bettors should like.

The field, with post positions, riders, and odds, is:

1. Malameeze (John McKee) 20-1
2. With A City (Brice Blanc) 30-1
3. Superfly (Jeremy Rose) 7-2
4. Starspangled Gator (Charlie Woods Jr.) 30-1
5. Tahoe Warrior (Chris DeCarlo) 9-2
6. Sharp Attack (Julio Garcia) 15-1
7. Seaside Retreat (Patrick Husbands) 12-1
8. Hemingway’s Key (Edgar Prado) 4-1
9. Laity (Corey Lanerie) 4-1
10. More Than Regal (David Flores) 15-1
11. Pair of Kings (Richard Bracho) 20-1
12. Silent Times (IRE) (Robby Albarado) 5-1

Previously on the probables list, Special Interest and In A Flash (IRE) will be pointed to the Rushaway Stakes instead.

Speaking for Nick Zito, who trains Superfly and Hemingway’s Key, assistant Tim Poole said, “We’re fortunate to have two horses in the race and we hope they live up to their billing.

“We feel sorry for the Oxleys and John Ward [owner and trainer, respectively, of Strong Contender]. They are great sports people and we’re sorry the situation unfolded the way it did.”

Hemingway’s Key will wear blinkers for the first time in the Lane’s End. Also wearing blinkers for the first time will be With A City.

Commenting on the outside post that fell to Silent Times (IRE), trainer Eoghan O’Neill quipped, “We came all the way here to get the 12 post. Well, we will see how the race unfolds. He went well on the track today.”

Said Bill Gowan, trainer of Starspangled Gator, said, “I love the post position. He has breeding to run all day, and he loves the Polytrack. He has never been worse than second on this surface.”

“We’re not thrilled with the draw, but it’s OK,” said Malameeze’s owner Mark Stanley. “The decision to use jockey John McKee was due to the longstanding relationship he has with [trainer] Bobby [Barnett]. I think he is a horse on the improve whom I think will be a very good three-year-old in the fall.”

Assistant Maria Kabel, who will saddle Pair of Kings at Turfway while Buff Bradley saddles Brass Hat in Dubai, was not concerned about drawing post 11 for the big gray closer. “The post-position draw didn’t mean much to us. He will likely be behind the field for the early part of the race anyway. But he is ready to go. We really like how he is coming into this race.”

Mike Dilger, assistant to Tahoe Warrior’s trainer Todd Pletcher, said, “We are very happy with how the draw went.” Commenting on the Pletcher contingent, which includes Capozzene in the Bourbonette Breeders’ Cup and High Cotton in the Rushaway, Dilger said, “They shipped in yesterday, jogged today, and will get one day of galloping tomorrow.”

Earlier in the day, John Fretwell’s Silent Times (IRE) worked from the gate over the Keeneland training track, going three-eighths in :40.40. Trainer Eoghan O’Neill was in the irons for the work.

“He’s fit. We just wanted to show him around a little bit,” said O’Neill afterward. O’Neill jogged the colt twice around the track prior to the work. The horse first went to the track on Wednesday, his first day out of quarantine after arriving at Keeneland on March 18.

The Lane’s End Stakes is the 10th of 12 races on Saturday’s card. It and the Rushaway will be carried live by ESPN2 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. First post is 1:10 p.m. Gates open at 10:00 a.m.

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