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Decisions, Decisions

Theoretically the Coolmore Lexington is still a Derby prep (rather like the Derby Trial used to be in bygone days), but I find it hard to see that anyone will move forward from this year’s installment with a legitimate chance in the Derby. Yes, Square Eddie (pictured) has the earnings, a nice pedigree and a reasonable 2-year-old foundation, but it seems an insurmountable task to come back from injury with one prep race two weeks out before the Derby.

Kiaran McLaughlin has already ruled Mafaaz out of Derby contention – and let’s be honest, not only would starting him in the Derby have been perceived as a total dick move (for lack of a better phrase), it would have further sullied the notion of getting more international horses in the race – I’d actually like to see more overseas horses – but ones with real accomplishment) – and Terrain also has the cash, but his connections seem luckily immune to Derby fever.

It goes without saying that Square Eddie needs a race; while Back in the Day horses used to do the two-week (or even one-week) turnaround before the Derby all the time, I think it’s hard to imagine in the modern era (although I would like to see more try it – but ideally as part of a planned campaign, not as a last-chance return from injury or grab for graded earnings). I would not be surprised to see him do reasonably well here and next appear in the Preakness – but equally, I know that a good performance will likely be considered a good omen for the Derby.

Other Derby decisions are being made; I’m pleased to see that Julien Leparoux will be riding General Quarters and that Rafael Bejarano is sticking with Papa Clem. There is still no word on who will ride Pioneerof the Nile, however – it sounds like Garrett Gomez has some tough decisions to make – although he managed to snag Stardom Bound for the Oaks (but it must be said she hasn’t looked quite as scary as Rachel Alexandra of late). His Derby decision, when it comes, may speak volumes.

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