Friday, March 24, 2006 12:00 AM
For Lane’s End starters, it’s waiting time
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 24, 2006 . . . With the field set for the $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes (G2) Saturday, all that remains is the wait for the call to the post. This year’s running, the 35th, is the first on Polytrack, but the race has a long history that includes Classic winners, Grade I winners, and champions.
“When [former general manager] John Battaglia first came up with the idea to have a three-year-old race here, he called it the Spiral Stakes,” said Turfway Park president Robert N. Elliston. “He felt this was the race where three-year-olds are beginning to spiral up or down and separate themselves [as far as which] will be heard from later on in the year. We saw that last year with [2005 Lane’s End Stakes winner] Flower Alley, who was arguably the best three-year-old in the country in the second half of the year.”
Flower Alley is one of numerous competitors in Turfway’s signature race to go on to Grade I wins. The race also has produced a Kentucky Derby winner (Lil E. Tee, 1992), three winners of the Grade I Preakness Stakes (Summer Squall, 1990; Hansel, 1991; Prairie Bayou, 1993), and two winners of the Belmont Stakes (Hansel, 1991; Birdstone 2004). The great Serena’s Song remains the only filly to win the race.
This year’s Lane’s End Stakes and the four other stakes on Saturday’s card include horses who are familiar with Polytrack and those who are seeing it this week for the first time. Among those familiar with the surface is Silent Times (IRE), who trains on private Polytrack surfaces, both flat and uphill, in England. Pair of Kings, Laity, Malameeze, Starspangled Gator, and Sharp Attack all have wins over the surface.
Trainer Todd Pletcher introduced his three—Capozzene in the Bourbonette Breeders’ Cup (G3), High Cotton in the Rushaway, and Tahoe Warrior in the Lane’s End—to Polytrack a few days ago, shipping in on Wednesday. Kings Challenge, trained by Robert Holthus, arrived on the grounds Monday to prepare for the Rushaway. Trainer Mark Casse sent Lane’s End entry Seaside Retreat to Turfway on March 17.
Seaside Retreat has the distinction of being the first Lane’s End Stakes starter to represent the Farish family of Lane’s End Farm, sponsor of the race since 2002, but the farm has long had connections to the race. Two stallions with ties to Lane’s End have won the race: Summer Squall in 1990 and Stephen Got Even in 1999. Summer Squall, now retired from stud duties, sired the 2000 winner, Globalize.
Between handicapping races on Saturday, fans can enter to win prizes from Turfway Park, including tickets to the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, Breeders’ Cup, Kentucky Speedway, Keeneland in the spring, and Reds and Bengals games. In addition, representatives from Dreamworks will be on hand to give away DVDs and movie-themed packages to promote the DVD release of the movie Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story.
Before the races, people lucky enough to have snapped up a Maker’s Mark bottle commemorating the 2006 Lane’s End Stakes can have the bottle signed on Saturday. Basketball great Oscar “The Big O” Robertson, Maker’s Mark president Bill Samuels Jr., and Turfway Park president Robert Elliston will sign bottles from 10:00 a.m. to noon on Turfway’s second floor. Those with bottles to be signed should enter Gate D. A ticket to the Lane’s End Stakes is not required to enter the building for the bottle signing.
The Turfway Park gates open Saturday at 10:00 a.m. to include races simulcast from Dubai, where local favorite Brass Hat is a top contender in the $6 million Dubai World Cup. The first live race at Turfway goes off at 1:10 p.m.
Limited reserved seating is still available by calling (859) 371-0200. General admission is $10. Parking is free.
The Rushaway Stakes and the Lane’s End Stakes will be televised from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. on ESPN2. Hosting the broadcast live from Turfway will be Kenny Mayne, ESPN host and erstwhile contender on Dancing with the Stars, ESPN analyst Hank Goldberg, and Daily Racing Form columnist Jay Privman.