Golden Ticket, second in the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby on March 10, will bypass this Saturday’s Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and instead point for the Grade III Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland the following weekend, trainer Ken McPeek said Tuesday morning.
McPeek said Golden Ticket popped an abscess in one of his heels before leaving Florida and that the 1 1/16-miles Lexington gives the son of Speightstown an extra week of preparation.
“The Lexington is a better race for this horse,” McPeek said. “We needed time to get that cleaned up so he missed a workout, which was kind of a key workout. So we got him here and we worked him. I was on the fence if he worked really well and he didn’t work bad in his own right but his workmate didn’t help him out and didn’t work very fast.
“He needed a sharp work for this race, plus the Blue Grass is coming up really tough. So I’m going work him again Saturday and point him for the Lexington.”
Golden Ticket began his career with five straight losses but finally broke his maiden going 1 1/16-miles at Gulfstream on February 11. The dark bay colt was then beaten just three quarters of a length by Prospective in the Tampa Bay Derby and could still be under consideration for a start in the Kentucky Derby should he put in a bang-up run in the Lexington.
“I don’t want to jump through a hoop before I jump through the first one,” McPeek said. “But if win the Coolmore then yeah, there is a good chance he runs in the Derby if it unfolds right.”