Sunday, February 24, 2008 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . February 24, 2008 . . . The 37th running of the Grade II Lane's End Stakes, set to run March 22 at Turfway Park, has drawn 156 nominations, announced Stakes Coordinator Randy Wehrman.
Todd Pletcher nominated 24 to the race, the most from one trainer. Pletcher has twice won the Lane's End, first with Balto Star in 2001 and again with Flower Alley in 2005. Larry Jones, who won the Lane's End last year with the outstanding Triple Crown contender Hard Spun, is represented by a single nominee, Ferragamo, a recent winner at Oaklawn Park.
Among the nominees are Texas Fever (trainer Michael Stidham), Chitoz (Pletcher), and Blackberry Road (David Carroll), who finished in that order in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (G3) at Turfway Park last fall. Blackberry Road later was second to Z Fortune in the Lecomte Stakes and fifth behind Pyro and Z Fortune in the Risen Star, beaten just 3 1/2 lengths despite being jammed in traffic for most of the race. Pyro and Z Fortune, both top early Derby contenders and both trained by Steve Asmussen, also are nominated to the Lane's End.
Also nominated are Turfway Prevue winner U. S. Cavalry (Michael Maker) and WEBN Stakes winner Big Glen (Frank Brothers); both races are local preps for the Lane’s End. The third local prep, the John A. Battaglia Memorial, runs next Saturday.
Trainer Mark Casse nominated five, including three owned solely or in partnership by William S. Farish and/or William S. Farish Jr. of Lane’s End Farm. One of the world's leading Thoroughbred operations, Lane's End Farm has sponsored the Lane's End Stakes since 2002. Additional sponsorship for race-related events is provided by Maker's Mark, Key Bank, and Miller Brewing Company.
Run at 1 1/8 miles, the Lane's End Stakes is a prep race for the Kentucky Derby and traditionally runs six weeks before the first Saturday in May. The Lane’s End carries a $500,000 purse, and the $300,000 winner's share virtually clinches a spot in the Derby gate should more than 20 seek to run for the roses.
The Lane's End Stakes undercard features the 1 1/16-mile Rushaway Stakes, also a Derby prep, and the Bourbonette Oaks (G3), a prep for the Kentucky Oaks, the distaff counterpart to the Kentucky Derby. Two sprint stakes, the Queen for older fillies and mares and the Hansel for 3-year-olds, round out the undercard stakes. All horses nominated to the Lane's End Stakes are automatically also nominated to the Battaglia Memorial, the Rushaway and the Hansel.
Both the Rushaway and the Lane's End will be televised by ESPN. Gates open at 10am ET on March 22; the first of 12 races on the day goes off at 1:10pm.