Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 23, 2010 . . . The list of probable starters for Saturday's Lane's End Stakes (G2) grew by one overnight with the addition of the John Sadler-trained Ranger Heartley, announced Turfway Park stakes coordinator Tia Murphy.
Ranger Heartley has four wins in 10 starts, each time leading all the way. He most recently was fifth in the El Camino Real Derby, beaten less than four lengths by Connemara, who also is expected for the Lane's End.
"We're looking for another chance to keep him on the Derby trail, and we wanted to keep him on the synthetic, so we decided to take him out of town," said Sadler. "It wasn't that smooth last time (in the El Camino Real), but he's been training forward since that race. He worked three-quarters in 12 and 2 yesterday (1:12.40 at Santa Anita, second of 12 at six furlongs). I'm not concerned about the distance (of the Lane’s End) but he likes to be on the lead, so it depends on what kind of trip he gets."
Sadler claimed Ranger Heartley for $32,000 at Hollywood Park last July for owners David and Herb Alpert. "You're not thinking 'Derby' then,” said Sadler. "You just hope he's worth the money. So he's been a big thrill for us and the Alperts because he turned out to be better than that. He's won four races for us, including a stake (the California Derby). You always hope they're as good as what you pay for them, but when they turn out to be better, that’s what keeps you in the game."
Chief Counsel has a win, two seconds, and two thirds in five starts but has never raced past seven furlongs, so the Lane's End's 1 1/8-mile distance is the obvious question. "For a $500,000 purse we'll see if he can get the distance," said trainer Bill Mott. "Seriously, he did well when we stretched him out on the Beard course at Keeneland, so there's no reason to think he can't get two turns."
Chief Counsel most recently was second in the OBS Sprint Stakes, his first start since October. "I expect him to move forward in his second start off the layoff, if he can get the distance," said Mott.
The colt breezed four furlongs Sunday at Payson Park Training Center, posting a bullet :49 flat among 31 at the distance. His rider Saturday has not been named.
D. Wayne Lukas trainee Northern Giant was third in the Risen Star, beaten less than two lengths. "We had two options, the Louisiana Derby or Lane's End," said Lukas. "We thought he ran well enough in the Risen Star to merit trying this race and feel he's well placed here. The distance won't be a problem, and (jockey) Calvin Borel is a plus. The only gray area is the synthetic surface."
Northern Giant's last work came Sunday at Oaklawn Park, a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.40, second-fastest of 20 at the distance over a track rated good.
Bourbonette Oaks (G3)
The "gray area" applies to all three of Lukas’s expected runners on Lane's End day, including Absinthe Minded in the Bourbonette Oaks and Activity Report in the Rushaway. Absinthe Minded has three starts this year, with a maiden special win and two seconds, the most recent a nose loss in an Oaklawn Park allowance race. "This is a big step up for her, but she's doing well and we feel pretty comfortable trying her at this level,” said Lukas. "We're giving her a chance." Borel has the mount in the Bourbonette.
Absinthe Minded breezed four furlongs in :47 flat at Oaklawn Saturday, the fastest of 58 moves at the distance.
Trainer Mike Maker will be represented in the Bourbonette by Age of Humor and Lisa's Kitten. Age of Humor was third in the Silverbulletday Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds, and Maker said he expects a strong showing from her in the Bourbonette. "She will run in blinkers,” Maker said. "She wasn't allowed to at (Fair Grounds) and she got in tight, but when she was able to get out, she came on again. One of the horses she beat that day (Devil May Care) just won the Bonnie Miss, so I'm expecting a big effort from her." Russell Baze will ride Saturday.
Age of Humor worked Sunday at Churchill Training Center, going five furlongs in 1:00.20, one of two at the distance, both in that time.
Lisa's Kitten was last in the Valdale Stakes at Turfway in her most recent start, but Maker is throwing out the race. "She stepped on herself leaving the gate, so we're crossing that one off," he said. "Her last couple of races haven't been up to par, so in that sense she is stepping up." Cornelio Velasquez has the mount Saturday.
Lisa's Kitten breezed Saturday at Churchill Training Center, getting five furlongs in 1:10.20, second fastest of six at the distance.
The Lane's End Stakes is the ninth of 12 races on Saturday’s card. In addition to the Grade III Bourbonette Oaks, the undercard offers four additional stakes: the Rushaway and Hansel for three-year-olds and the Queen and Fairway Fun for older fillies and mares. First post Saturday is 1:10pm. Gates open at 9:30am, half an hour earlier than previously announced, to include races 3 through 8 on the Dubai World Cup card.
First run in 1972 as the Spiral Stakes, the Lane’s End Stakes has been sponsored since 2002 by Lane’s End, one of the world’s most respected Thoroughbred operations. Additional sponsorship is provided by Maker's Mark and Miller Brewing Company.