Pure Fun isn't nominated to the Triple Crown, and she was seeking to pick up qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks running against boys in Saturday’s Grade III Coolmore Lexington Stakes. But all that has changed since earlier in the day on Wednesday.
A report surfaced on Wednesday afternoon that Live Lively was declared out of the Kentucky Oaks, opening the fourteenth-in-eligibility spot for Pure Fun. Trainer Ken McPeek said on the record before this development that Pure Fun needs a race and needs the points. It now appears she no longer needs the points, and McPeek will go ahead and race her in the Lexington.
Trained by Ken McPeek, Pure Fun closed her 2012 campaign with a victory in the Grade I Hollywood Starlet Stakes. In her 2013 debut, the daughter of Pure Prize finished a disappointing third in the Grade III Bourbonette Oaks on March 23 at Turfway Park.
Rosie Napravnik will have the riding assignment Saturday on Pure Fun, who will break from post 11.
Top challengers to Pure Fun are a couple of colts who chased leading Kentucky Derby contender Orb in Florida: Cerro (IRE) and Pick of the Litter.
Cerro hasn't raced since finishing sixth behind Orb in the Grade II Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes in February. Cerro was part of a hot early pace, and it's taken time for him to recover. Trained by Graham Motion, the Mr. Greeley colt will break from post 8 and be ridden by Joel Rosario.
Pick of the Litter finished sixth in the Grade I Besilu Stables Florida Derby on March 30 in his most recent start. Trained by Dale Romans, the son of Kitten’s Joy will be ridden by Jesus Castanon and break from post 2.
Supplemented to the Lexington was Sunbean, who finished eighth after a rough trip in the Grade II Louisiana derby on March 30. Now trained by Mike Maker, the Brahms colt will break from post 6 under Gary Stevens.
General Election will get another shot at stakes company. After he won the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park in his stakes debut, he finished tenth in the Grade III Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes behind Black Onyx.
“We are just drawing a line through the Spiral,” trainer Kellyn Gorder said. “In the Battaglia, the race set up perfect, but in the Spiral, the kickback was really flying, and he was getting it in his face for the first six or seven furlongs. He never got a break from it.”
General Election worked a half-mile in :48.40 on Sunday in his second work since the Spiral.
“He has had a couple of good works here, so we decided to take a shot,” Gorder said.
A total of 34 points toward the Kentucky Derby (20-8-4-2) is available in the Coolmore Lexington. Like other Derby qualifying races, those points can be applied to the Kentucky Oaks. Pure Fun has 20 points toward the Oaks and could need more. Number 14 on the list maintained by Churchill Downs has 34 points.
The Coolmore Lexington will go as the ninth race on Saturday’s 10-race program with a 5:13 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.
The field for the Coolmore Lexington, from the rail out, is as follows: Winning Cause (Julien Leparoux, 118 pounds), Pick of the Litter (Castanon, 118), River Rocks (James Graham, 118), Hip Four Sixtynine (Gabriel Saez, 118), Where’s Dominic (Edgar Prado, 118), Sunbean (Stevens, 120), Examen (Garrett Gomez, 118), Cerro (IRE) (Rosario, 118), Wings of Fortune (Calvin Borel, 118), General Election (Joe Rocco Jr., 118) and Pure Fun (Napravnik, 118).
Edited Keeneland release with additional content by Dick Downey