Direct Message Can Upset Lexington Stakes
Direct Message Can Upset Lexington Stakes: Godolphin’s Direct Message heads into the Lexington Stakes, scheduled for this Saturday at Keeneland Race Course, as an outsider at 15-1 odds. As a recent maiden winner, he spots the field a class edge. On the positive side, he offers bettors upside and catches a field comprised of questionable favorites.
The Tom Albertrani-trained son of Bernardin and the Unbridled’s Song mare Tweeter currently owns one win out of four career starts. If successful in the Lexington, Direct Message will earn 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.
Direct Message’s best two races came at the nine-furlong distance, both at Gulfstream Park. Back in January, he finished a decent second to Gettysburg, who competes at Oaklawn Park in the Arkansas Derby (GI) on the same day. Losing by four lengths certainly felt like an improvement compared to the 20-length loss in October.
Last month, Direct Message put his talent together and edged clear to victory by a little more than one length. About four lengths separated the runner-up Singleton and the third-place finisher Happy’s Causeway, while Happy’s Causeway had nearly seven lengths on the fourth-place runner.
Gulfstream dirt promotes strung-out fields because of the track’s nature, but they still signify a quality race.
Jockey Luis Saez, who currently wins at a 28% rate at this meet out of 25 tries, will be able to secure a good position going into the first turn from the second post position and save ground in this 8.5 furlong race.
In contrast, the west coast-based Collected starts from the tenth post. Given his up-front running style, the Bob Baffert-trained contender will need to clear the field quickly to avoid becoming caught wide early on.
Collected won an ungraded Sunland Park stakes race, defeating the aforementioned Gettysburg. Still, Sunland seems like a racetrack where speed thrives (even though this author has no real evidence).
Furthermore, Collected did not exactly give a great effort two races ago at Oaklawn Park in the Southwest. Given the expected odds and post position, it is fair to consider Collected a probable underlay.
From the more desirable fourth post, Swipe makes his return after finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) to the expected Kentucky Derby favorite Nyquist. The one-mile spin from March 26 on his worktab looks interesting, because horses rarely work longer than seven furlongs in the mornings.
Swipe might squeak into the Derby with a good finish, but trainer Keith Desormeaux wins at a low percentage off layoffs. Another concern comes from the lack of expected pace, which works against Swipe’s closing style. If Swipe wins, no one will be surprised. At the same time, the layoff and lack of value damper the enthusiasm.
The Keeneland press release failed to offer any clues with their Swipe-related article.
“He’s very frisky this morning with this cooler weather,” said Julie Clark, assistant to trainer Keith Desormeaux.
A viable alternative to the above three horses might be Big Squeeze, who also recently won a maiden race in March. The raw final time of 1:38 1/5 at Oaklawn Park appears sluggish, although BRIS awarded him a 92 speed figure. For whatever reason, Oaklawn times in general feel a tick slower than most other racetracks.
Riker, who starts from post nine, will receive attention as well. Yet, it would be nice to see a dirt win on his record. If he fails to fire here, the connections should bring him back to Woodbine where he owns a 4 for 4 record.
In any case, Direct Message absolutely can handle this Grade III field with one more leap. No standout stars are here, meaning it will not take a gigantic speed figure to prevail. Post Direct Message on all tickets.
Lexington Stakes 2016 Post Positions & Odds
Race 9 4:49 PM ET
1 One More Round 30-1 Lezcano/Avila
2 Direct Message 15-1 Saez/Albertrani
3 Lomcevak 15-1 Castanon/Frost
4 Swipe 9-5 Prat/Desormeaux
5 Synchrony 10-1 Bridgmohan/Von Hemel
6 Big Squeeze 10-1 Landeros/Simms
7 Call the Colonel 20-1 Leparoux/Cowan
8 Riker 6-1 Geroux/Casse
9 Yo Carm 15-1 Albarado/Block
10 Collected 2-1 Castellano/Baffert