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Lane's End field taking shape

Monday, March 16, 2009 12:00 AM
  • Spiral Stakes
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 16, 2009 . . . The list of 3-year-olds probable for the Lane's End Stakes (G2) at Turfway Park Saturday has taken shape, reports Stakes Coordinator Tia Borgemenke. Entries will be drawn Wednesday during the annual Call to the Post Luncheon.

Looking likely for the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby prep are:

AP Cardinal (trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, jockey Cornelio Velasquez)
Bittel Road (Todd Pletcher/Garrett Gomez)
Dynamite Bob (Jose Lopez/jockey TBD)
Flying Private (D. Wayne Lukas/Israel Ocampo)
Hold Me Back (Bill Mott/Kent Desormeaux)
Jack Spratt (Michael Maker/Julien Leparoux)
Loch Dubh (Jeff Talley/jockey TBD)
Orthodox (John Glenney/Jesus Castanon)
Parade Clown (Katherine Ball/Eibar Coa)
West Side Bernie (Kelly Breen/Edgar Prado)

Proceed Bee (Terry Gestes), who won the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway, remains on the fence between the Lane's End and the undercard Rushaway Stakes (listed), run at 1 1/16 miles.

West Side Bernie won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (G3) at Turfway Park in September and comes in to the Lane's End off a third-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park January 31. "[In the Holy Bull], two longshots got out there and kept on running," said trainer Kelly Breen. "Bernie came from next to last, so he ran his race, but nobody that day came from worse than third to win, so if you take that into consideration, he ran a pretty powerful race that day."

West Side Bernie vanned up from Florida on Friday, arrived at Turfway Saturday morning, and jogged over the track on Sunday. "We wanted to make sure he got over the trip and get his body moving," said Breen. "He looks good, eating well—all the things you want them to do coming out of a trip."

With Breen aboard, West Side Bernie galloped a little over a mile Monday morning, a routine he will continue through the week. He worked four furlongs in :48.80 last Thursday at Palm Meadows, fourth fastest of 21 at the distance, and will not breeze again before the race.

"His last workout, I was ready for a little faster time," said Breen. "There was a pretty strong headwind, but when it came up 48 and 4, at first I was like, 'Are you OK, Bernie?' But I'd told the rider not to go too-too fast, and then when the workouts came out it was fourth of 21, and I said, well, the track was a little dead and the headwind was pretty good."

Edgar Prado, who won the Lane's End last year with Adriano, has the mount on West Side Bernie.

Breen ran a public stable until last year, when he began to train privately for George and Lori Hall. The connections also plan to run King Puma in the Hansel Stakes on the Lane's End undercard. The muscular colt is two-for-three in his young career, with a stakes win at Presque Isle, a runner-up finish last out in the OBS Sprint in Ocala, and three straight bullet works at Palm Meadows.

While the Lane's End Stakes will serve as a key test for several entrants, Bittel Road comes to Turfway having already tangled with two of the best horses on the West Coast. The son of Stormy Atlantic exits solid fourth-place finishes in the CashCall Futurity (G1) last December and the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on February 7. In the Lewis, Bittel Road was beaten just two lengths by Pioneerof the Nile, who came back to capture the San Felipe Stakes on Saturday. Third in the Lewis was I Want Revenge, who followed with a blowout 8 1/4-length win in Aqueduct’s Gotham Stakes March 7.

"The form of his races has been holding up well," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "He's been racing against Pioneerof the Nile and I Want Revenge, but the key now will be to see how he transfers his races at Hollywood and Santa Anita to what is a little different synthetic surface at Turfway Park."

A good race in the Lane's End could keep Bittel Road firmly on the Kentucky Derby trail. "We're going to see how this race goes, and then we can decide whether to train him up to the Kentucky Derby or run once more in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes," said Pletcher.

Pletcher has named Garrett Gomez, winner of the 2008 Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey, to ride. "I think [Bittel Road] is versatile," said Pletcher. "He can adapt to any pace scenario. We'll see how the race looks on paper, then put Garrett up and let him make the decisions out there."

Bittel Road will ship from California to Kentucky on Wednesday.

After setting the early pace but tiring to fifth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs February 14, A.P. Cardinal will try an all-weather surface for the first time in the Lane's End Stakes.

"It's an unknown for sure," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "We think he has a high knee action and might like the Polytrack, so we're going to give it a try. He didn't like Tampa—he was spinning his wheels there. The timing of the Lane's End is just right, so we're going to go there."

If winning begets winning, A.P. Cardinal may have an edge. The A. P. Indy colt is owned in part by Rick Pitino, coach of the University of Louisville Cardinals, just named the number one seed in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Pitino is part of Ol Memorial Stable, which owns A. P. Cardinal in partnership with C. E. Glasscock.

A.P. Cardinal will ship to Turfway from his Florida base on Thursday. Also on the flight will be Fitz Just Right, who will compete in the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) on the Lane's End undercard. Winner of the OBS Championship at Ocala February 16, Fitz Just Right was solidly backed at 22-1 in the recently concluded Kentucky Oaks Future Wager.

The favorite in the Oaks advance wagering was Justwhistledixie, who like Fitz Just Right is trained by McLaughlin and owned by Terry Finley's West Point Thoroughbreds. But McLaughlin is not against running two quality fillies against each other in the Kentucky Oaks. "It's possible, if Fitz Just Right were to win the Bourbonette and if Terry Finley wants to run two in the Oaks," he said. "She's three-for-four lifetime and just won over a synthetic surface at OBS, so now we want to try and get her some graded earnings."

Probables for the undercard stakes are:

$100,000 Rushaway Stakes (listed) (1 1/6 miles, 3yo)
Dueling Alex (trainer Cam Gambolati)
Fitzaslew (Ken McPeek)
Gresham (James Baker)
Ninth Client (D. Wayne Lukas)
No Inflation (Tom Proctor)
Sundays Baby Grand (Jackie Christenson)
Toccet Rocket (Brian La Mew)
Ziegfeld (Dale Romans)

$150,000 Bourbonette Oaks (G3) (1 mile, 3yo fillies)
Fitz Just Right (McLaughlin)
Hot Cha Cha (Phil Sims)
Instrumentalist (Tom Drury Jr.)
Ocoluna (Darrin Miller)
Step Out Smartly (Rusty Arnold)
Stone Legacy (Lukas)
Super Poni (Keith Chudzik)
Walloon (Ball)

The Bourbonette is part of the Breeders' Cup Stakes Program.

$50,000 Hansel Stakes (6 furlongs, 3yo)
He Ain't Right (Bill Denzik Jr.)
King Puma (Breen)
Music City (Bill Helmbrecht)
Rudy Flyer (Bill Connelly)
Shanes Gold (John Good)
Turfiste (Bob Holthus)

$50,000 Queen Stakes (6 furlongs, fillies and mares 4yo and up)
Hadavision (Maker)
Just for Keeps (Maker)
Miss A. Bomb (Sims)
Natalicat (Tim Schuh)
Proud Heiress (Wayne Mogge)
Tactical Candy (Luis Seglin)
Tosca's Kiss (David Ashcraft)
Victorianna (Eddie Kenneally)

Past performances for all Lane's End and undercard stakes nominees are available at The Lane's End Stakes is the 10th of 12 races on Saturday. Gates open at 10am ET. First post is 1:10pm.

The Lane's End and the Rushaway one race earlier will be nationally televised on ESPN2 and broadcast by Horse Racing Radio Network.

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