Monday, March 22, 2010 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 22, 2010 . . . The field for the Lane's End Stakes is taking shape, with the list of probable starters holding steady at nine.
Trainer Todd Pletcher expects to bring two to the Lane's End, one proven in graded stakes competition and the other looking for his chance to step up.
Connemara broke his maiden at Turfway Park in his debut race last fall before heading to California, where he most recently won the El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate. He has three wins and one second in four starts for Pletcher, all on all-weather surfaces. In his most recent work, Saturday at Santa Anita, he went four furlongs in :47.80, seventh-fastest of 47 at the distance.
"We're not ruling out the Derby for him, but we're really not looking beyond this race," said Pletcher. "He liked the track at Turfway when he broke his maiden, so this looks like a good spot for him. He has trained on dirt and turf, but synthetics seem to be his preferred surface. If he does well, whether he goes in the Derby would probably depend more on how he did training at Churchill following the race."
Russell Baze has been aboard for Connemara's two most recent starts and will be back in the irons for the Lane's End.
A son of Giant's Causeway, Connemara is owned by Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Mrs. John Magnier.
Doubles Partner will step up to the Lane’s End off two straight wins, the first his maiden score at Churchill last fall and the most recent an impressive allowance win at Gulfstream last month, both on the turf and both at the Lane's End distance of 1 1/8 miles. Sired by Rock Hard Ten, Doubles Partner already has shown both versatility and grit. In the maiden win he closed from near-last to win by a head, and in the allowance race he was closer to the pace. Most tellingly, he was bumped around in both races and remained undeterred. His most recent work was Sunday at Palm Meadows, where he worked five furlongs in 1:01.85, fourth-best of 36 at the distance.
"This will be a step up for him," said Pletcher, "but he did beat Lentenor in his last race, and Lentenor just came back to be fourth in the Florida Derby. (Doubles Partner) is a WinStar (Farm) horse so he's spent a lot of time training at Keeneland and he seems to like the synthetic."
Chris DeCarlo was aboard for both of Doubles Partner's wins and has been named to ride again Saturday.
Pletcher has twice won the Lane's End Stakes, in 2001 with Balto Star and in 2005 with Flower Alley.
Mike Maker owns five consecutive training titles at Turfway, and his knowledge of the surface will benefit his expected Lane's End entry, Dean's Kitten. A son of Ken and Sarah Ramsey's turf champion Kitten's Joy, Dean's Kitten finished sixth in the Grade II Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in November, beaten less than three lengths. He most recently was second, also beaten less than three lengths, in the Grade III Palm Beach at Gulfstream on the turf. In his most recent work he clocked five furlongs in 1:01.20 Saturday at Churchill Training Center second of six at the distance.
"That (the Gulfstream race) was a very good race on a speed-biased course, so Turfway will be just what the doctor ordered," said Maker. Dean's Kitten has won at 1 1/16 miles and Maker is not worried about the extra half-furlong he would face Saturday. "The farther, the better," he said.
Cornelio Velasquez has ridden Dean's Kitten in his last two starts and has the mount on Saturday.
Maker has a full plate across the six stakes on Lane’s End day. In addition to Dean's Kitten in the feature, he expects to saddle Lisa's Kitten and Age of Humor in the Bourbonette Oaks (G3), Lonesome Street in the Rushaway Stakes, Kera's Kitten in the Hansel Stakes, Complicity in the Queen Stakes, and Deputy Darling in the Fairway Fun Stakes. His horses are expected in at Turfway on Friday evening.
Others probable for the Lane's End include Chief Counsel (trainer Bill Mott); Kettle River (Eoin Harty); Northern Giant (D. Wayne Lukas); Outlaw Man (Ken McPeek); Vow to Wager (Dale Romans), and Letsgetitonmon (Steve Asmussen)
In addition to Lisa's Kitten and Age of Humor, others looking toward the one-mile Bourbonette Oaks, a prep for the Kentucky Oaks, are Absinthe Minded (Lukas), Allegation (Mark Casse); Cactus Cadillac (David Pate); Cascading (Josie Carroll); Delitefully Wild (Tim Hamm); Helen Belen (Bill Denzik); Midway Holiday (Greg Foley), and Orchestrator (Ken McPeek).
Under consideration for the Rushaway, a 1 1/16-mile race also for three-year-olds, are Activity Report (Lukas); In the Paint (Kellyn Gorder); Instant Message (Steve Margolis); Maker's Lonesome Street; Pathoki (Lowell Stevens); and Citrus Kid (John Terranova).
The Lane's End Stakes is the ninth of 12 races on Saturday's card. The race will be televised on USA Network and broadcast by the Horse Racing Radio Network. First post Saturday is 1:10pm. Gates open at 9:30am, half an hour earlier than previously announced, to include races 3 through 8 on the Dubai World Cup card.
First run in 1972 as the Spiral Stakes, the Lane’s End Stakes has been sponsored since 2002 by Lane’s End, one of the world's most respected Thoroughbred operations. The farm stands such influential stallions as A. P. Indy, Smart Strike, Kingmambo, and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and is owned by William S. Farish, former United States ambassador to the Court of St. James's. Farish was honored earlier this year with the Eclipse Award of Merit for outstanding lifetime achievement in the Thoroughbred industry.