In recent years, the $200,000 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland hasn’t been the most significant of Kentucky Derby prep races.
Although it offers 20 Derby qualification points to the winner, the Lexington hasn’t produced a Kentucky Derby starter since 2011, but that’s about to change thanks to My Boy Jack, who unleashed a strong late rally to win the 2018 Lexington in narrow fashion and secure his spot in the Derby field.
Coming off of a close third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), My Boy Jack was favored at 3-2 to win the Lexington despite cutting back in distance a sixteenth of a mile while facing a large field and breaking from the far outside post position. On paper, it was a recipe for defeat, and after My Boy Jack dropped back to ninth place early on—more than ten lengths behind mild fractions of :23.28, :47.11, and 1:12.02—it seemed unlikely that he could produce a strong enough rally to win.
But rounding the far turn, My Boy Jack started to get going, sweeping past horses with a bid on the far outside. Entering the homestretch, the pace-tracking Telekinesis made what appeared to be a winning move by going inside to take the lead while saving ground, but My Boy Jack pulled up alongside at the eighth pole and resolutely wore down Telekinesis to win by a head.
The final time of 1:44.22 wasn’t all that quick and translated to modest speed figures (a 90 Beyer and a 94 BRIS), but you have to admire My Boy Jack’s tenacity in overcoming a less-than-perfect trip. Telekinesis appears to be a promising colt in his own right, and the fact that My Boy Jack has consistently been competitive as a deep closer in graded stakes races says something about his talent—it’s not easy to be consistent while forever at the mercy of the early pace.
With four prep races under his belt this year, My Boy Jack should be perfectly fit and ready for the Kentucky Derby. The only question is whether he’s fast enough to be competitive against the best three-year-olds in the country while stretching out to ten furlongs. A wet track on Derby Day could certainly help his chances–he’s already proven over off going (having won the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes over a sloppy, sealed track), and in general, wet-track Derbies have a tendency to fall apart late, giving an advantage to deep closers like My Boy Jack.
Do you think My Boy Jack has what it takes to be a serious Derby contender?