Established in 1936, the Lexington Stakes typically takes place in April in the city of Lexington, Kentucky. Three-year-old thoroughbreds race around the Keeneland Race Course at a distance of 1 1/6 miles on the dirt track, which recently replaced an artificial polytrack surface made of synthetic fibers, silica sand and rubber. This competition was recently downgraded to a Grade 3 stakes after securing status as a Grade 2 stakes between 1988 and 2010. The purse has dipped from a high of $325,000 between 1998 and 2008 down to the current prize money of $200,000.
Despite these changes in purse and grade ranking, the Lexington Stakes remains a pivotal race in the American thoroughbred racing calendar. This competition marks the end of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series of races and is listed as a “Wild Card” event – one final chance to earn points in the standings, qualify for the Kentucky Derby and prepare for the first jewel of the Triple Crown. The 2015 edition of the race will take place on April 18th, 2015. The winner earns 10 points in the standings while place earns 4 points and show acquires 2 points. Fourth place finishers earn a single point.
The speed record for the Lexington Stakes was set in 1999 by Charismatic, who ran the 1 1/6 mile course in 1:41.00, over a second faster than the next best time, becoming the only horse to finish with a sub-1:42.00 result. Jerry Bailey is the most dominant jockey in the history of this race, winning six times, including three victories in four years between 1990 and 1993. Trainer Todd Pletcher has dominated the last decade of the Lexington Stakes, winning five times since 2005, including three consecutive victories from 2008 to 2010, becoming the most successful trainer to compete in the race.
Between 1973 and 1983, this race was known as the Calumet Purse before being renamed the Lexington Stakes in 1984. Although the event takes place in the city of Lexington, also known as the “Horse Capital of the World”, this race was named after one of the most famous stallions of the 19th century. Lexington was a fine thoroughbred racer, but found extensive fame as the leading sire of his time. His progeny resulted in seven Triple Crown wins with three Preakness Stakes victory, tied for the most by the offspring of a sire. Lexington’s most famous son was Cincinnati, the favorite horse of Ulysses S. Grant, ridden by the general on his memorial.
In addition the purse and the points for the Road to the Kentucky Derby, the Lexington Stakes attracts top horses because of the overall strength of the field every year, providing thoroughbreds an excellent test against tough competition. Winners of the Lexington Stakes tend to do well in multiple graded stakes events.
Lexington Stakes Betting Odds
One of the nice things about betting exotic wagers, such as a trifecta, is that even if the top three choices on the Tote finish a race 1-2-3, a $2 bet can still earn a nice payback, as was the case in the 2015 Lexington, when 3-1 Divining Rod, 2-1 Donworth and 3-1 Fame and Power combined to produce a tri payout of more than $80. Placing that wager online through a racebook like Bovada is an even better bet, as daily cash back on exotic wagers provide even bigger payouts.
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* REMINDER! – you must be of legal age in your state or province to legally wager on thoroughbred or harness horse racing. Please bet responsibly!
2017 Lexington Stakes Contenders
While the 2016 running of the Lexington Stakes (G3) will unlikely have any major implications on the Triple Crown, the race still drew a competitive field of ten three-year-old colts and geldings.
Swipe, trained by Keith Desormeaux, went to the gate as the 2-1 favorite. Though he had to be steadied early, the rest of his trip was uneventful and he came up empty at the top of the stretch. Collected, the second choice, was fresh off of a win in the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes and, despite several horses getting bumped at the start, managed to break cleanly and settle into position. He rated sharply off of the pace-setting One More Round before collaring that rival and drawing off to win by four lengths. It was his third victory and second graded stakes win of the year.
2016 Order of Finish: Win Place Show
1st: Collected $6.40 $4.00 $3.00
2nd: One More Round $28.40 $13.80
3rd: Synchrony $5.00
(Also Ran: Direct Message, Yo Carm, Swipe, Lomcevak, Riker, Call the Colonel, Big Squeeze)
Check back closer to race time for the 2017 Lexington Stakes odds and contenders.