Trainer Todd Pletcher already has five horses targeted for the Kentucky Derby, with two of them the probable top duo in the field. Saturday at Keeneland he posted another stakes win with yet another 3-year-old.
Pletcher saw his chestnut colt Winning Cause drive to a one-length victory versus nine rivals in the $200,000 Lexington Stakes. More than 32,000 fans witnessed the victory, the fifth for Pletcher in the race.
"We were stretching him out and stepping up into a graded stakes off two weeks rest," Pletcher noted after the win. "The main reason (he was entered) is he's two-for-two at Keeneland going into this. We know he likes the surface and thought it was worth taking a shot."
The trainer previously garnered wins in the Lexington with Coin Silver (2005), Behindatthebar (2008), Advice (2009) and Exhi (2010). Winning jockey Julien Leparoux previously won the stakes in 2011 on Derby Kitten.
"From the one hole, I couldn't ask for a better trip," Leparoux exclaimed following Winning Cause's victory. "In the first turn, he put me in a good spot and I got room to get him out there (toward the middle of the track) and he just cruised around there and finished strong.
"He's the kind of horse that fights back. The more you ask him, the more he goes. I kind of know him from last time (when he rode Winning Cause to win a Keeneland allowance race on April 6) and I knew I was going to get there."
Pletcher has Verrazano, Revolutionary, Overanalyze and Palace Malice pointed toward the Run for the Roses on May 4. With Charming Kitten a possible starter based on points accumulated.
Can Winning Cause become his sixth starter in the Kentucky Derby?
"I guess you can never have too many, but we never really talked about that with this colt. We'll see how he comes out of it and see (what his next race will be). We're just happy to have this one," Pletcher noted.