Once upon a time, not so long ago, the Lexington Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland held some serious Kentucky Derby (GI) implications. Before Churchill Downs implemented its current rule awarding points to the top finishers of the major Kentucky Derby preps, connections with good horses sitting on the bubble and looking for graded stakes earnings would run their horses in the last major Kentucky Derby prep. After all, former claimer and eventual dual classic winner Charismatic threw his Hail Mary pass in the Lexington before going on to wear the garland of roses.
This year, though, with just 10 points to the winner on the line, no such last-minute crunch play was possible for any of the runners entered for the Lexington, so a talented field of ten sophomores with no Derby hopes whatsoever lined up and faced the starter to race the 1 1/16 miles.
With Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano aboard for the first time, Speedway Stable’s Collected broke smartly from the outermost post position, established a comfortable position stalking just behind the early pace of :23.57, :47.47 and 1:11.73 set by longshot One More Round, was swung wide to pass his tiring rivals as he rounded the final bend, took command at the top of the stretch and held sway under a brisk ride from his pilot to win by four lengths. After setting the one-mile split in 1:36.82, Collected stopped the clock in 1:43.33 over a fast Keeneland main track.
As the public’s 2-1 second choice, the Bob Baffert-trained Collected paid $6.40, $4 and $3. One More Round held on strongly for second at odds of 40-1 and was worth $28.40 and $13.80 when he crossed the wire a half-length in front of 8-1 chance Synchrony, who paid $5 to show. The exacta was worth $164.80 and the trifecta paid $ $1,193.40.
Direct Message, Yo Carm, favored Swipe, Lomcevak, Riker, Call the Colonel and Big Squeeze completed the order of finish.
“What an impressive horse,” Castellano said. “I really liked the way he did it. He broke well out of the gate, and he wanted to dictate the pace today. I tried to sit a little bit behind the pacemaker. Turning for home, I really like the way he accelerated. When I asked, he really responded. I was really satisfied today.”
Collected is a chestnut son of City Zip and the Johannesburg mare Helena Bay. He was bred in Kentucky by the partnership of Runnymede Farm and Peter J. Callahan. He was purchased by his current owners for $170,000 as an Ocala Breeders’ Sales two-year-old in training just over a year ago.
According to Speedway Stables partner Peter Fluor, the next step for Collected will likely be the second jewel in the Triple Crown, the May 21 Preakness Stakes (GI) at Pimlico.
“I was very impressed,” Fluor said. “Bob [Baffert] did a very good job getting him ready; lot of good horses in the race. [The Preakness] would be the most logical step, given the distance. We’ll see how he comes out, but that would be a thrill for us.”
Collected picked up a $90,000 check for the Lexington win to bring his career earnings to $433,700 and his career record now stands at 6-4-1-0. He won the Sham Stakes (GIII) at Santa Anita earlier this year before capturing the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes last time out.