ARCADIA, Calif. -- Square Eddie, who has not raced since January because of a cannon bone injury, will start in the $300,000 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland next Saturday as a prep for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2.
Owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O'Neill had considered starting Square Eddie in the Kentucky Derby off a series of workouts in March and April but have opted to start the colt in the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes after a strong six-furlong breeze April 5 at Hollywood Park.
"He galloped out with so much energy and came out of the work so well," O'Neill said. "I think it makes sense now. He's ready for that.
"We had talked of doing a simulated race in the morning and we all know a race is more useful. Realistically to win a mile-and-a-quarter race off a layoff, we'll need a good prep."
Square Eddie has not started since finishing second to The Pamplemousse in the Grade 3 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 17, Square Eddie's only start this year. He was scheduled to run in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in February, but was sidelined by a cannon bone injury early that month.
Square Eddie has been working steadily, including a six-furlong breeze in 1:13 last April 5.
A winner of 2 of 7 starts and $787,366, Square Eddie had an outstanding campaign last fall after arriving from England. Square Eddie won the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita as the 7-2 favorite.
O'Neill said Edgar Prado will ride Square Eddie in the Lexington.
Smith to ride Chocolate Candy
Jockey Mike Smith will ride Chocolate Candy in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Friday.
Hollendorfer cited Smith's experience as a big-race rider, including a win in the 2005 Kentucky Derby aboard Giacomo, as a major factor in the decision.
"No disrespect to the other riders that wanted to ride, but we decided to go with Mike considering the big races that he's been in," Hollendorfer said.
Owned by Jenny Craig, Chocolate Candy has won 4 of 9 starts and $532,500. He has won two stakes this year - the California Derby and Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields - and was second by a length to top Kentucky Derby contender Pioneerof the Nile in the Santa Anita Derby on April 4. Russell Baze rode Chocolate Candy at Golden Gate Fields. Joel Rosario was aboard in the Santa Anita Derby.
Chocolate Candy is a closer, and Hollendorfer is hopeful that the Kentucky Derby will have a fast pace to help Chocolate Candy's style.
"I think there are a lot of good horses in there and a lot of horses with chances to win the Derby," he said. "I think he's one of those. Hopefully, we'll get a better pace."
Smith is scheduled to work Chocolate Candy at Santa Anita on Sunday. The colt will leave for Churchill Downs on Thursday, Hollendorfer said.
Smith said the workout will give him a feel for Chocolate Candy's running habits.
"I'd like to see if he is a horse that turns off on his own," he said. "He looks pretty jockey-friendly. He seems like he's not very difficult to ride.
"Every time he runs, he shows up. I think he's been hurt by a slow pace in some of his races. It's a matter of a getting a little pace for him."