Fountain of Youth (G2) runner-up In Due Time and Rebel (G2) second Ethereal Road will pursue the points necessary for a Kentucky Derby berth, and Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) runner-up Tawny Port can secure his positioning on the cut line. All three are contenders in Saturday’s $400,000 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland.
Eleven are entered for the 1 1/16-mile race, the last qualifier in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, and the Lexington will award points on a 20-8-4-2 scale to the top four finishers.
In Due Time will invade from South Florida for Kelly Breen. A convincing allowance winner two starts back, the Not This Time colt rallied from off the pace to finish second when making his stakes and two-turn debut in the March 5 Fountain of Youth. Paco Lopez retains the mount.
Ethereal Road will wheel back seven days later after a seventh in the Blue Grass (G1), and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Victor Espinoza will pick up the mount for D. Wayne Lukas. A romping maiden winner in late January, Ethereal Road threatened to win the Rebel from off the pace before coming up a half-length short, and the late-running son of Quality Road is eligible to show more in the Lexington.
Tawny Port won his first two starts at Turfway Park this winter, and after a fifth in the deep Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, the Brad Cox-trained colt showed more tactical speed and held to be a clear second behind Tiz the Bomb in the April 2 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway. Florent Geroux will take the reins aboard the Pioneerof the Nile colt.
Lecomte (G3) upsetter Call Me Midnight, an even sixth in the March 26 Louisiana Derby (G2), merits serious respect for Keith Desormeaux, but the confirmed closer only has 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to his credit. The second leg of the Triple Crown, the May 21 Preakness (G1) at Pimlico, may be a more likely target for Call Me Midnight.
Smart Jones S. victor Dash Attack will try to get back in the spotlight following unplaced finishes in the Rebel and Southwest (G3). Iroquois (G3) winner Major General never fired after missing the break in the March 12 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), but he’s eligible to perform better in the second start back from a lengthy layoff for Todd Pletcher.
Stakes winner Howling Time and last-out maiden scorer Skate to Heaven are also entered.