Todd Pletcher already has Rule, Aikenite and Discreetly Mine going to the Kentucky Derby and he’s looking to add two more to the list of starters when he sends the 9-5 morning line favorite Connemara and Doubles Partner (10-1) to the starting gate of the $500,000 Lanes End Stakes (G2) at Turfway Park.
Connemara comes into the Lanes End with three wins and a second-place finish in four starts including the 9-furlong El Camino Real Derby (G3). Connemara obviously has talent but his winning time in the El Camino Real was a slow 1:51.26 and he will need to pick up the pace if he’s going to win the Lanes End. At 9-5 odds, I will give him a pass.
Of Pletcher’s two entries, Doubles Partner looks like an interesting long shot at 10-1 odds.
Last November, Doubles Partner broke his maiden in a 9-furlong turf race at Churchill Downs in a time of 1:50.35. When he returned as a 3-year-old running the same distance at Gulfstream Park, Doubles Partner knocked two seconds off of his previous effort to win in a time of 1:48.41. That’s the kind of improvement I like to see in a colt at this time of year. Doubles Partner should improve in his second start off of the layoff and I look for him to be competitive.
If Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Dean’s Kitten (5-1) can transfer his recent turf form to synthetic, he is the most likely winner of the Lanes End. Dean’s Kitten finished second in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) earlier this month, beaten by 2 ½ lengths. His estimated time for the 9-furlongs was a blisteringly fast 1:45.82 which is just a few ticks off of the time Connemara ran in the 8 ½ -furlong California Derby. A sharp work out March 20 indicates that Dean’s Kitten may be ready to run another good race.
Trainer Ken McPeek ships in Outlaw Man (8-1) and adds blinkers for his run in the Lanes End. In his last outing, Outlaw Man finished fourth in the Sham Stakes (G3) but he closed well to just narrowly miss finishing third. His Brisnet Speed Figures have improved with every race and his average time of 1:49 and change in his last two races, both at 9-furlongs, makes Outlaw Man very competitive in the Lanes End.
Last year, long shot Flying Private finished second in the Lanes End for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and it looks like Lukas has another solid competitor in Northern Giant (5-1) who comes into race off of a fast-closing, third-place finish in the Risen Star Stakes (G2). Calvin Borel rode Northern Giant to his only win in seven starts and Borel picks up the mount for today’s race.
The pace in the Lanes End should be more to the liking of Northern Giant and a sharp work out March 21 indicates that he may be ready to make another move forward off of his third-place finish in the Risen Star.