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Derby attempt unlikely, Adriano connections say

FLORENCE, Ky. -- Adriano would be a cinch to make the field for the 134th Kentucky Derby after raking in $285,000 in graded earnings by capturing the Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes, but while trainer Graham Motion is leaving open the possibility of pointing in that direction, he called the Derby "unlikely" for the A.P. Indy colt.

Adriano, bred and owned by the Courtlandt Farms of Donald Adam, was a 2 1/2-length winner Saturday at Turfway Park in the lone major Derby prep of the weekend. The colt was scheduled to return by air to the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida on Tuesday, said Motion. The April 19 Coolmore Lexington Stakes on the Keeneland Polytrack is the likely next start, he added.

As for the Derby, "We've still got to talk about it some more," Motion said Monday from Florida. "I wanted to get the horse back here to train while I'm in Dubai. I'll see how he's doing when I get back and assess it further. The Derby? It's unlikely at this point, but like I said before the race, never say never. Let's get him back here and see how he's doing."

While Adriano has raced primarily on turf, he now has a win and a fourth in two Polytrack tries. His lone dirt try, a ninth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes four weeks before the Lane's End, is somewhat difficult to gauge, said Motion.

"So much of why he ran well Saturday was because of his behavior," said Motion. "He's a horse that can get very shook up, but he was great before this race. He was pretty shook up before the Fountain of Youth, so it's a little hard to read into how much his poor performance was due to his behavior and how much to the track. Obviously, a day like Derby Day wouldn't be easy for him."

The respective 2-3-4 finishers in the Lane's End - Halo Najib, Medjool, and Racecar Rhapsody - all are possibilities to run back against Adriano in the 1 1/16-mile Lexington, according to their connections.

Meanwhile, purely from a Turfway Park perspective, the victory by Adriano was not ideal, if only because the track would prefer to have the winner of its showcase race move forward to the Derby. Turfway president Bob Elliston acknowledged last week that the nature of Polytrack is such that a turf horse might one day win the Lane's End and bypass the Derby. That possibility clearly exists this year.

Big Glen probably not Derby-bound
Big Glen, a narrow winner of the Rushaway Stakes over previously unbeaten Miner's Claim, is not nominated to the Triple Crown, and it seems doubtful his connections will move that way, barring unforeseen developments. Trainer Frank Brothers said earlier this year that he did not believe Big Glen was up to top company in main-track races in South Florida, so he has had Big Glen at the Skylight training center east of Louisville for most of the spring, with Tom Drury overseeing the colt on his behalf. Big Glen also is likely for the Lexington.