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Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby at The Downey Profile®

El Areeb Remains on Derby Trail


Choices Narrowed to Two Races

El Areeb, a well-beaten third as the heavy favorite in the Gotham Stakes, is being pointed to the Wood Memorial or the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Both are on April 8.

 The Exchange Rate colt returned to the work tab Friday at Laurel for the first time since the Gotham. With trainer Cal Lynch’s son and assistant, Charlie, aboard and going in company with multiple stakes-winning 4-year-old filly Winter, El Areeb had a steady one-mile gallop before breezing a half-mile in 51.40 seconds over Laurel’s fast main track.

“The Wood looks like the option, but I’ve still got to talk to the owners and he’s got to work another time or two before we’re satisfied that he’s good to go,” Lynch said. “He’s got enough points now (30) that if they want to just wait and go (to the Kentucky Derby) we can do that, but the Wood would be the logical spot.”

Winter is on a three-race win streak including back-to-back stakes victories in the Nellie Morse and Maryland Racing Media this year at Laurel. She was given the same final time. She will run next in the Top Flight Invitational Handicap  April 2 at Aqueduct.

“We two-minute licked him a mile and then finished up the last half-mile, and he did everything right. We were very pleased with him and Winter, as well,” Lynch said. “We just wanted to put a little bit more pressure on him and start to make him get a little bit more out of his works. That was his first work since he ran, so it was just an easy work today. We put him in company to keep his attention a little bit. Maybe we got a little soft with him and were trying to baby him a little bit, and that’s not what got him here.”

El Areeb reeled off four straight wins including the James. F. Lewis III in November at Laurel and the Jerome and Withers this year at Aqueduct. In the Gotham, he set what his connections view as a demanding pace of 23.58 and 47.70 under Trevor McCarthy before tiring to third, beaten 11 lengths by J Boys Echo.

“Trevor and I have talked about it a few times, but 23 and 47 on a track where everything else was 49 and 50 all day long, that’s just a lot to ask for a young horse that’s still relatively inexperienced,” Lynch said. “He’ll come forward for the race and lives to fight another day. He came back good and that’s all that matters.”

Lynch said he plans to give El Areeb two more works, tentatively scheduled for March 23 and 29 at Laurel.

Edited Maryland Jockey Club release

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