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Hell or High Water for Hades in Lexington Stakes

It’s hell week for Hades, who must beat nine others in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Hades was 3-for-3 lifetime before finishing fifth by 19 lengths in the Florida Derby on March 30. Hades, trained by Joe Orseno and ridden by Jose Ortiz, wheels back quickly in a bid to make the Run for the Roses on May 4.


Hell or High Water for Hades in Lexington Stakes
Hell or High Water for Hades in Lexington Stakes

Sierra Leone, impressive in winning the Blue Grass Stakes on April 6, is the favorite in the Kentucky Derby odds at the BetUS racebook (+300). Fierceness is listed at +375, followed by Forever Young (+800) and Catching Freedom (+1000).

Encino, Liberal Arts Connections Continue To Dream

The winner of the Lexington Stakes receives 20 Kentucky Derby qualifying points. Second place is worth 10. Hades has 30 points, so a second-place finish on Saturday brings his total to 40. That would put him 21st on the list, which means he would need a scratch to make the 20-horse Derby field.

Two other Lexington runners also continue their Derby dreams. Encino owns 20 points, so winning the Lexington won’t get him in the Derby Field. He would take the 21st spot with a win. Liberal Arts has 19 points, so he needs a win plus at least two scratches.

Hades (7-2), Liberal Arts (4-1) and Encino (5-1) highlight the field, but The Wine Steward could get the most attention at the betting windows as the 5-2 morning-line favorite to win the Lexington. The Wine Steward was last seen finishing second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 7. The Vino Rosso colt is trained by Mike Maker. Luis Saez rides.

Jockey changes on Liberal Arts and Encino are worth noting. Irad Ortiz Jr. takes the mount on Liberal Arts while Florent Geroux pilots Encino. Liberal Arts needs a fast pace to set up his closing kick while Encino should sit just behind Hades with a clear shot in the stretch.

The Wine Steward is 3-for-4 lifetime, but the layoff is hard to overlook. Hades missed the break in the Florida Derby, which proved costly. Expect jockey Saez to have him on the engine. Lucky Jeremy (8-1) breaks from the outside post 10 and will be a forward factor.

Look for Liberal Arts near the back of the pack early before Irad kicks him into gear on the final turn and circles the field. Footprint (10-1) completes a juicy exacta with a similar trip.

The Lexington Stakes is Race 10, and will be run at 1 1/16 miles. Post time is 5:48 p.m. ET. FanDuel TV provides coverage. Place your wagers at the BetUS racebook.

Sierra Leone Could Be Anything After Blue Grass Victory

In other Kentucky Derby news, Sierra Leone stamped himself as a major player with a visually impressive victory in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 6. Sierra Leone was last to load in the Blue Grass, and stressed out the assistant starters by refusing to enter the gate for some two minutes. That usually spells trouble for a horse, but Sierra Leone came from second-last to mow down the field and win by 1½ lengths, earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure. Fierceness received a 110 after crushing the Florida Derby field by 13½ lengths.



Questions of the Day

Who is favored to win the Lexington Stakes?

The Wine Steward, ridden by Luis Saez and trained by Michael Maker, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite to win the Lexington Stakes.

Which trainers own the most Kentucky Derby victories?

Ben Jones (1938, 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, 1952) boasts the most Kentucky Derby victories by a trainer with six.

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