By J. Keeler Johnson

The Road to the Kentucky Derby concludes on Saturday with a final pair of prep races, including the $200,000 Lexington S. (G3) at Keeneland. The 1 1/16-mile race awards qualification points to the top four finishers on a reduced 20-8-4-2 basis, serving as a last-ditch opportunity for horses on the qualifying bubble to sneak into the Kentucky Derby field.

Noble Reflection
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(93) when breaking his maiden at Oaklawn Park.
Total Earnings:
$44,400
Owner:
Calvin Nguyen and Joey Tran
Breeder:
G. Watts Humphrey
Trainer:
Richard Baltas
Jockey:
Javier Castellano
Sire:
Liam's Map
Dam:
Deal of the Decade
Color:
Gray/roan

Although Noble Reflection has never run farther than six furlongs, the gray gelding has shown a ton of promise. In his debut at Del Mar last summer, Noble Reflection carved out the pace before settling for third behind future graded stakes winners Dr. Schivel and Spielberg. Then—after spending seven months on the sidelines—Noble Reflection returned to action in a March 7 maiden race at Oaklawn Park, where he led all the way to crush next-out winner Gaslight by 4 1/2 lengths. Noble Reflection clearly has a ton of talent, and in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, he's one of the fastest horses in the Lexington field. Don't be surprised if he challenges for victory in his two-turn debut.

Swiftsure
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(98) when winning his debut at Fair Grounds.
Total Earnings:
$78,600
Owner:
Siena Farm and Asmussenequine.com
Breeder:
Siena Farms
Trainer:
Steve Asmussen
Jockey:
Irad Ortiz
Sire:
Uncle Mo
Dam:
Island Saint
Color:
Dark bay/brown

Two starts, two victories. Like Noble Reflection, Swiftsure has never run farther than six furlongs, But neither has the Steve Asmussen trainee been challenged, winning maiden and allowance races at Fair Grounds and Oaklawn by a minimum of 3 1/4 lengths. A son of Uncle Mo out of a Speightstown mare, Swiftsure has the pedigree to stretch out in distance and picks up three-time champion jockey Irad Ortiz for his route debut. With Brisnet Speed ratings of 98 and 96 to his credit, Swiftsure has the credentials to be a serious win threat. Keep in mind, the horse he defeated in his allowance victory—Sir Wellington—came right back to win the Gazebo S., so Swiftsure has already proven himself against stakes-caliber competition.

Bezos
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(86) when breaking his maiden at Santa Anita.
Total Earnings:
$37,100
Owner:
SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Stables, Golconda Stable, Siena Farm, and Robert E. Masterson
Breeder:
Grousemont Farm
Trainer:
Bob Baffert
Jockey:
Drayden Van Dyke
Sire:
Empire Maker
Dam:
A P Mink
Color:
Bay

Sold for $400,000 as a yearling, Bezos is bred top and bottom to thrive over classic distances. After all, his sire (Empire Maker) and damsire (A.P. Indy) both won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont (G1) and are renowned as sources of stamina. Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, Bezos failed to seriously challenge in his debut sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita, but the bay colt bounced back when stretching out over one mile on March 26, leading most of the way to score by 4 1/2 lengths. His career-best 86 Brisnet Speed rating looks a bit slow, but Bezos is eligible to keep improving with maturity. Baffert trainees have performed well in recent renewals of the Lexington, with Collected taking home top honors in 2016, and Bezos signaled his readiness for a strong effort when blazing a bullet five furlongs in :58 4/5 at Santa Anita last week. He's a tough colt to analyze, but one who warrants respect in this deep and competitive field.

It's My House
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
1
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(86) when finishing fourth in the El Camino Real Derby.
Total Earnings:
$59,760
Owner:
Doug Gans, Gary Jacobs, Larry M. Katz, and Kevin Riggs
Breeder:
Bryan Keith OSteen and Caryl Carlisle OSteen
Trainer:
Robert B. Hess
Jockey:
Umberto Rispoli
Sire:
Anthony's Cross
Dam:
Gerry's Reward
Color:
Bay

You have to admire the tenacity It's My House displayed when surviving a pace duel to win the Turf Paradise Derby last month, defeating next-out allowance winner Tony's Tapit by three-quarters of a length. But It's My House's previous foray on the Road to the Kentucky Derby produced a distant fourth-place finish in the El Camino Real Derby, a concern since the bay colt will face tougher competition in the Lexington.

Unbridled Honor
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(85) when finishing fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
Total Earnings:
$38,550
Owner:
Whisper Hill Farm
Breeder:
Whisper Hill Farm
Trainer:
Todd Pletcher
Jockey:
Julien Leparoux
Sire:
Honor Code
Dam:
Silvery Starlet
Color:
Gray/roan

Trainer Todd Pletcher has been ultra-hot through the first three days of racing at Keeneland, going 4-for-6 (67%). This fact alone suggests Unbridled Honor warrants respect in the Lexington, though the caliber of competition could prove problematic. The son of champion Honor Code has gone just 1-for-4 so far and enters off a modest fourth-place effort in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), where he rallied belatedly to finish fourth by seven lengths. Unbridled Honor doesn't have much in the way of tactical speed and has yet to post a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 85, so he may need a pace meltdown in order to catch his more tactical rivals.

Hockey Dad
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
3
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(93) when finishing third in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3).
Total Earnings:
$132,420
Owner:
Reddam Racing
Breeder:
Reddam Racing
Trainer:
Dog O'Neill
Jockey:
Mario Gutierrez
Sire:
Nyquist
Dam:
Ann Summers Gold
Color:
Bay

Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O'Neill comes to the table with Hockey Dad, a son of O'Neill's 2016 Derby winner Nyquist. A three-time winner against fellow California-breds at Satna Anita, Hockey Dad fired off a big effort in his Road to the Kentucky Derby debut, finishing third by one length in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park. But the Jeff Ruby took place over a synthetic Tapeta track, whereas the Lexington will be conducted over traditional dirt. Hockey Dad did win an allowance race over the dirt at Santa Anita three starts back, but that was a six-furlong sprint against much easier competition than Hockey Dad will encounter in the Lexington. In short, Hockey Dad looms as a wildcard.

Proxy
Total 6 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
3
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(98) when finishing second in the Risen Star (G2).
Total Earnings:
$227,700
Owner:
Godolphin
Breeder:
Godolphin
Trainer:
Michael Stidham
Jockey:
John Velazquez
Sire:
Tapit
Dam:
Panty Raid
Color:
Bay

The most accomplished entrant in the Lexington field, Proxy has already competed with aplomb in a trio of Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races at Fair Grounds. Second in the Lecomte (G3)... second in the Risen Star (G2)... fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2)... the Godolphin homebred has yet to reach the winner's circle against this caliber of competition, but no one can question his talent. A beautifully bred son of three-time leading sire Tapit out of multiple Grade 1 winner Panty Raid, Proxy has been known to break poorly and race greenly, but his pedigree suggests he'll improve with maturity. A blazing half-mile workout in :46 4/5 on April 4 at Keeneland hints Proxy might be on the verge of putting everything together, a scary prospect for his Lexington rivals.

Ultimate Badger
Total 8 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
2
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(91) when finishing second in the Hutcheson S.
Total Earnings:
$118,270
Owner:
Jim Bakker and Gerry Isbister
Breeder:
Erv Woolsey and Ralph Kinder
Trainer:
Dale Romans
Jockey:
Corey Lanerie
Sire:
Commissioner
Dam:
El Rebecca
Color:
Bay

The most experienced of the Lexington entrants with eight starts under his belt, Ultimate Badger did win an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs last fall, but overall his best efforts have come sprinting. A third-place effort in the Swale (G3) and a runner-up finish in the Hutcheson S. (both at Gulfstream Park) suggest this stretch-running son of Commissioner is more comfortable racing around one turn rather than two, so stretching back out over 1 1/16 miles in the Lexington is a question mark.

King Fury
Total 5 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(93) when winning the Street Sense S.
Total Earnings:
$142,739
Owner:
Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm
Breeder:
Heider Family Stables
Trainer:
Kenny McPeek
Jockey:
Brian Hernandez
Sire:
Curlin
Dam:
Taris
Color:
Chestnut

A son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin out of the Grade 1-winning mare Taris, King Fury has always had the pedigree to improve with maturity, so the fact he won the 1 1/16-mile Street Sense S. as a juvenile is significant. Though he wasn't the most consistent runner last season, King Fury did show flashes of serious talent and could develop into a nice prospect in 2021. But the chestnut colt hasn't run since November, and trainer Kenny McPeek wins at just a 9% rate with runners returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, so King Fury might need to get a race under his belt before returning to peak form. After all, the $950,000 yearling acquisition has posted just five timed workouts this year.

Starrininmydreams
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(88) when winning a Churchill Downs maiden race.
Total Earnings:
$117,064
Owner:
Stewart Racing Stable and WinStar Farm
Breeder:
Dallas Stewart and WinStar Farm
Trainer:
Dallas Stewart
Jockey:
Luis Saez
Sire:
Super Saver
Dam:
Boy Crazy
Color:
Bay

Victorious in his first two starts against maiden and allowance company at Churchill Downs, Starrininmydreams entered 2021 as an undefeated and promising prospect for trainer Dallas Stewart. But the son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver faltered in a pair of Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races at Fair Grounds this winter, failing to show speed when finishing ninth in the Risen Star (G2) and fifth in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Starrininmydreams broke from the rail on both occasions, so perhaps drawing outside in the Lexington will help him return to the forwardly placed tactics he employed so successfully last season. But even if Starrininmydreams manages to turn the tide from a running style standpoint, his Brisnet Speed ratings suggest he has form to find against this caliber of competition.