Trainer Keith Desormeaux has had starters in the past three runnings of the Kentucky Derby (G1), and a winning run by Silverton Hill's Sueno in Saturday's $200,000 Stonestreet Lexington (G3) at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., could extend the string to four.
The Stonestreet Lexington is the final prep in Kentucky for the $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, and it offers 34 points toward qualifying for the Derby on a 20-8-4-2 basis to the top four finishers.
Sueno has 28 points accumulated thus far. A victory Saturday would boost that total to 48 and most likely enough to be among the top 20 point getters for the race that is limited to the top 20 point earners and invitees that pass the entry box.
Desormeaux has been in this same spot the past two years with Sonneteer picking up enough points in the 2017 Arkansas Derby (G1) to make the Kentucky Derby field; last year My Boy Jack won the Stonestreet Lexington to safely earn a spot in the Run for the Roses, in which he finished fifth behind Justify. There was no drama in 2016 as Exaggerator finished third on the leaderboard with 126 points prior to running second to Nyquist in the Derby.
“We are hoping lightning can strike again,” said Julie Clark, Desormeaux's assistant who oversaw the colt's gallop over a muddy race track Friday morning. Sueno arrived here Thursday afternoon from Churchill Downs.
Third in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 23 in his most recent start, Sueno went from New Orleans to Louisville, bypassing Oaklawn Park, where he had finished second in the Southwest (G3) on Feb. 18.
“We had horses coming to Kentucky anyway, and it was easier to set up the barn there (at Churchill) than to have to set up again in 2½ weeks,” Clark said.
Initially, plans were for Sueno to take the Southern California route to Kentucky.
“After the Southwest, the plan was to go to the Santa Anita Derby (G1),” Clark said. “But with the uncertainty out there … they had already canceled one prep (the San Felipe [G2] on March 9) and there was no guarantee they'd run the Santa Anita Derby (April 6). So Keith had to come back with him two weeks earlier (in the Louisiana Derby to get points).”
Sueno had two works at San Luis Rey Training Center in California before shipping to Fair Grounds, where he picked up the final 20 of his 28 Derby qualifying points.
“If he had gotten second, that would have been another 20 points and there'd be no problem,” Clark said.
Sonneteer, a homebred racing for Calumet Farm, is entered in today's eighth race.
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