Disappointed just a week earlier when their 3-1 favorite Interactif (Broken Vow) could only finish fourth in the Blue Grass S. (G1), owner-breeder Wertheimer and Frere and trainer Todd Pletcher enjoyed a consolation prize of sorts in Saturday's $300,000 Lexington S. (G2), as their colt EXHI (Maria's Mon) lead gate-to-wire over 11 rivals on a track that has played kindly toward speed for most of the spring meet. Dismissed at nearly 20-1 despite a near front-running triumph in the March 27 Rushaway S. at Turfway Park, the bay led by at least one length at every call under Robby Albarado and counted that margin as the winning one after 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 1/5.
For Pletcher, it was his third consecutive win in the Lexington following the success of Behindatthebar in 2008 and Advice in 2009. He also trained Coin Silver to victory in 2005.
Breaking from post 8, Exhi was away in good order and quickly assumed control along the inside. Rattling off fractions of :23 3/5, :46 4/5 and 1:11 2/5, Exhi never met a serious challenge and still had plenty left after negotiating the short stretch run of the Lexington, which ended at the sixteenth pole. Exhi returned $41.80, $6.80 and $4.80. Bushwhacked (Posse), coming off a Keeneland maiden score two weeks ago, was never more than three lengths off Exhi and moved off the inside turning for home for a clear run. Unable to reach the winner, the 5-1 third choice held off 4-1 second choice Uptowncharlybrown (Limehouse) by a half-length for the place and returned $6.80 and $4.80. Uptowncharlybrown, who had only one horse beaten through a half-mile, made a strong rally against the bias and paid $4.20 after finishing three parts of a length clear of 18-1 shot Chief Counsel (Officer).
The exacta paid $296.40, the trifecta $1,896.40, and the 8-4-2-12 superfecta was worth $19,858.20. The order of finish was completed by Prince Will I Am (Victory Gallop), Kettle River (Congaree), Distorted Dave (Distorted Humor), Heavenville (Offlee Wild), Krypton (Rock Hard Ten), 4-1 favorite Connemara (Giant's Causeway), Call Shot (Tale of the Cat) and Lonesome Street (Broken Vow).
Exhi was a maiden winner on turf in his third career start at Belmont Park, then ran sixth in the Bourbon S. (G3) over the Keeneland turf in October. Beaten a combined 31 lengths in his next two outings, the sophomore tried Polytrack for the first time in the Rushaway and passed the wire a length in front under Russell Baze. Though the Lexington winner's share of $180,000 is likely insufficient to get Exhi into the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby (G1) two weeks from now, it did elevate his career bankroll to $284,198 from a line of 8-3-2-1.
Produced from the Group 2-placed stakes winner Soldera (Polish Numbers), the Kentucky-bred counts as a full sibling the unraced juvenile filly Soldata and as a half-sibling the yearling filly La Polonaise (Smart Strike). Exhi's third dam was Canadian Horse of the Year Fanfreluche (Northern Dancer), who shared 1970 champion three-year-old filly honors in the U.S. with Office Queen. She produced Canadian Horse of the Year L'Enjoleur (Buckpasser) as well as Canadian champions La Voyageuse (Tentam) and Medaille d'Or (Secretariat), and the Grade 2 winner D'Accord (Secretariat). Other notables from this family include English highweight Bint Allayl (Green Desert), French highweight Holy Roman Emperor (Ire) (Danehill), and Grade/Group 1 winners Aube Indienne (Fr) (Bluebird), Flying Spur (Danehill), Encosta de Lago (Fairy King) and Majestic Roi (Street Cry [Ire]).