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Coin Silver pulls away to capture Lexington Stakes



Published: Sat, April 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Trainer Todd Pletcher will have three horses in the Kentucky Derby.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Trainer Todd Pletcher's stable for the Kentucky Derby grew to three Saturday, but there won't be a return trip to Churchill Downs for John Servis and Stewart Elliott.

Coin Silver, a 13-1 long shot in a seven-horse field, pulled away in the stretch and won the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, giving Pletcher another horse to run in the Derby.

Rockport Harbor, trained by Servis -- who won last year's Derby with Smarty Jones -- faded in the stretch and finished sixth as the 3-5 favorite. The loss will keep Rockport Harbor out of the Derby in two weeks, Servis said.

"He never got a hold of the track," Servis said. "That's par for the course with the way things have been going this year."

Rockport Harbor, ridden by Elliott, last year's Derby-winning jockey, has been bothered for months by nagging leg and hoof injuries, and also is recovering from a blood clot in his neck that kept him out of the Arkansas Derby a week earlier.

The gray son of Unbridled's Song, unbeaten as a 2-year-old, never held the lead in the 1 1/16th-mile Lexington, which was run over a sloppy track and with the temperature at 42 degrees, stiff northwest winds blowing and a light rain falling.

"By the first turn, I knew he didn't care for the mud at all," Elliott said.

Regrouping

Servis said his plan for Rockport Harbor now was to "regroup and get him ready for something else."

"He's fine. He's hardly even blowing, actually," Servis said. "The only thing I can say is this horse trained really good in the mud. He's trained in the mud plenty of times. For whatever reason, this track he didn't handle."

While Servis left disappointed, Pletcher's run of success in this year's Derby preps continued with Coin Silver, who has two wins in five career starts and had never run in a stakes race before Saturday.

Last week, Pletcher's Bandini won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and Flower Alley finished second in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, both earning trips to the Kentucky Derby.

Flower Alley earlier won the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park, while Monarch Lane finished second in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne.

"It was a big move forward for him today," Pletcher said of Coin Silver. "Any time a horse comes around this time of year, you've got to love it. If he comes out of it, we'll see if he can bounce back in two weeks."

Looking for first win

The 37-year-old Pletcher never has won the Kentucky Derby. He took four horses to the race in 2000 and has missed only one year since.

Coin Silver, ridden by Javier Castellano, entered the Grade II race with no graded-stakes earnings but won $201,500 for owner John Fort. Castellano also rides early Derby favorite Bellamy Road, and Pletcher will likely have to find a new jockey for Coin Silver.

If more than 20 horses are entered in the Derby, preference is given to horses with the most graded-stakes earnings.

Sort It Out, trained by Bob Baffert, finished second and earned $65,000. However, it's not enough to crack the top 20 list of graded-stakes earners, meaning Baffert, who has won the Derby three times, likely will miss the race for the second straight year after having at least one starter in the race for eight straight years.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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