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Advice proves to be well worth taking in Lexington

Advice rolls on by Square Eddie (Courtesy of Jordan Strickler)

WinStar Farm's ADVICE (Chapel Royal) engineered a blistering last-to-first rally in Saturday's $300,000 Lexington S. (G2) at Keeneland, spoiling the comeback of 7-5 favorite Square Eddie (Smart Strike). Despite his high-profile trainer/jockey tandem of Todd Pletcher and Garrett Gomez, Advice was ignored in the wagering at 15-1. The dark bay colt outperformed those odds by slicing through the field in the stretch, blowing past a tiring Square Eddie, and completing 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack in 1:43 1/5. With the $186,000 winner's check, Advice boosted his graded earnings to $206,845, more than sufficient to land him a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Square Eddie, who had been sidelined by a shin injury since his runner-up finish in the January 17 San Rafael S. (G3), was slowly away from the gate and soon found himself at the back of the pack. Advice was then content to drop back himself, taking over the anchor spot in 11th, just adrift of Square Eddie in 10th.

Up front, Pitched Perfectly (Pleasantly Perfect) enjoyed an uncontested lead through steady fractions of :23 4/5 and :47 4/5. Pletcher's other runner, Masala (Lion Heart), tracked in second early and moved up to press the leader at the six-furlong mark in 1:12 2/5.

Advancing most dramatically of all, however, was Square Eddie, evoking memories of his dynamic romp in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) last fall. The Doug O'Neill colt unleashed a ferocious move to circle the field on the far turn, and he rapidly struck the front. At the top of the stretch, Square Eddie came in slightly to his left, momentarily tightening up Masala before opening up by 1 1/2 lengths.

At this point, Advice was still well astern in eighth, briefly engaging in a barging match with fellow closer Conservative (Unbridled's Song), but he was about to explode. Finding a seam between rivals, Advice produced a dazzling burst of acceleration to overwhelm Square Eddie. He crossed the wire with a driving length to spare over Conservative, who finished willingly on the outside to garner runner-up honors.

"I talked to Todd this morning," Gomez said. "He (Advice) had some antics; at one time he lugged in, at one time he lugged out. We were just trying to push all the right buttons and see if we could get him to run straight, and he did so willingly today."

Advice is now the third Derby contender for Gomez, who is the regular rider of West Coast star Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker) and Florida Derby (G1) runner-up Dunkirk (Unbridled's Song).

"Just throw another log on the fire," Gomez said. "It gives you a little more to think about. It's good to be in that position."

Advice is "still kind of putting it all together," Pletcher said from Florida, celebrating his third Lexington victory in the last five years. "I thought he was still just a touch green when he made the lead. He's a horse that's shown a lot of ability."

Square Eddie checked in another length back in third, followed by Masala. Eibar Coa, the rider of Masala, lodged an objection against Square Eddie for the drifting incident, but the stewards disallowed the claim.

"We just didn't get lucky today," said Edgar Prado, who rode Square Eddie. "He broke a little flat-footed, and I had to make a move and go wide because I didn't want to wait for something to open up on the inside. He made a great run and was trying really hard. He gave 110 percent today."

O'Neill said it was likely that Square Eddie, owned by J. Paul Reddam, would go on to the Derby.

"I have to talk to the Reddams," O'Neill said. "I haven't had a chance to speak to Paul yet, but I'm very proud of the effort. With a clean break, I think he'd be right there."

Advice returned $33.60, $15 and $7.80 while sparking the $441.20 exacta, $1,901.00 trifecta and $12,073 superfecta (11-7-8-6). Conservative, also overlooked at 16-1, gave back $14.40 and $6.60, and Square Eddie yielded $3.20 to show.

Pitched Perfectly faded to fifth, followed by Jeranimo (Congaree), Brave Victory (Lion Heart), Parade Clown (Distorted Humor), Omniscient (Pulpit), El Crespo (A.P. Indy) and His Greatness (Honour and Glory). As expected, Hull (Holy Bull) was scratched in favor of next Saturday's Derby Trial (G3).

Advice was earning his first career stakes victory. Last September, he finished second in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3), but was disqualified and placed third. Advice was dispatched as the nearly 4-1 favorite in the Breeders' Futurity, only to wind up ninth, beaten 12 1/2 lengths by Square Eddie. Freshened until February, Advice returned with a third-place performance in a Santa Anita allowance. He experimented with blinkers in the Sunland Derby last out, where he reported home fifth, so he took off the headgear for the Lexington. Advice now sports a mark of 6-2-0-2 with $261,885 in lifetime earnings.

Bred in Florida by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel H. Rogers Jr., Advice was a $170,000 two-year-old purchase at OBS February. He is out of the Hennessy mare Word o' Wisdom, who is a half-sister to Grade 3 victor Polonius (Broken Vow) and French stakes heroine Witten (Fusaichi Pegasus). This is the family of Raven's Pass (Elusive Quality), winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) and Queen Elizabeth II S. (Eng-G1); unbeaten English champion juvenile filly Rainbow View (Dynaformer), who is expected to line up in the May 3 One Thousand Guineas (Eng-G1); multiple Grade 2-winning sire E Dubai (Mr. Prospector); and 1986 Belmont S. (G1) scorer, Danzig Connection (Danzig).

Advice is the second WinStar runner to be assured of a berth in the Derby, with the first being the Bill Mott-trained Hold Me Back (Giant's Causeway), who captured the Lane's End S. (G2) and was most recently second in the Blue Grass S. (G1). WinStar also owns Santa Anita Derby (G1) third-placer Mr. Hot Stuff (Tiznow), who is currently on the bubble with $114,000 in graded earnings.


 


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