LEXINGTON, Ky. - Although horses who rally from far back often are at a disadvantage on dirt, Senior Investment's closing style may have aided him in catching West Coast and No Dozing in a thrilling three-horse photo finish in the Grade 3, $200,000 Lexington Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland.
With at least several rivals having difficult trips either by racing wide or getting jostled about during a congested running, Senior Investment found himself racing clear of traffic and saving ground for most of the race. That left him in a position to outkick No Dozing through the lane and catch midstretch leader West Coast by a head on the wire.
Senior Investment did manage the victory despite the Lexington being just 1 1/16 miles, a distance trainer Ken McPeek feels is less than his best, and with the short stretch that comes into play in 1 1/16-mile races at Keeneland, which begin and end at the sixteenth pole.
He finished like a horse who would appreciate the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby, but barring a slew of defections, his Derby participation would be highly improbable with the race expected to overfill beyond the limit of 20 horses. He has 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, all earned in winning the Lexington, well below the customary threshold to gain entry when the race is oversubscribed.
"I think Churchill should add more points to this race immediately," McPeek quipped in the winner's circle.
The Lexington could more realistically serve as a prep for the Preakness or Belmont stakes, though McPeek didn't commit to either immediately following the Lexington, sponsored this year by Stonestreet.
The winner raced 1 1/16 miles on a fast track under Channing Hill in a slow 1:45.05, paying $24.20. He notched his third victory and his first stakes win in eight starts for owner Fern Circle Stables.
Both runner-up West Coast and third-place No Dozing, the 9-5 favorite, ran gamely to just miss, with West Coast having to circle wide after breaking from the outside post in a field of 10 and No Dozing encountering traffic and getting steadied when a rank Souper Tapit impeded him into the first turn.