October 28, 2021

Lexitonian springs 34-1 surprise in Vanderbilt

Lexitonian wins the Vanderbilt Stakes (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Lexitonian pulled off a 34-1 shocker in Saturday’s $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) at Saratoga, and perhaps most surprising was the way in which he won it.

Although the Calumet Farm homebred had shown more tactical foot in a trio of starts this season, there appeared to be so much other speed on paper that one could have argued beforehand that his best chance to upset would be revert to closing tactics.

Instead, Lexitonian was aggressively sent by Jose Lezcano to take a narrow lead over Strike Power through an opening quarter in :22.04. Approaching the stretch, a three-wide Special Reserve poked his head in front of Lexitonian, clipping off the half-mile fraction in :44.45.

Down the stretch, Special Reserve opened up a half-length lead on Lexitonian and appeared on his way to a narrow win, but Lexitonian found more inside of that rival when called upon and re-rallied to register the upset by a half-length.

“I said to Jose, he’s a horse who fights. Please get him out of the gate and engage him early,” trainer Jack Sisterson said. “I believe if you engage him early, he will feel the pressure and respond to that. At the half-mile pole, if he comes off the bridle, perfect. That’s him and he will respond. It’s even better if a horse heads him because he’ll fight on again, which happened. He stuck his head out in front today.”

Lexitonian paid $70 after completing six furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.38. Special Reserve held second by 1 1/4 lengths over sprint champion Whitmore. Montauk Traffic was fourth and was followed by Firenze Fire, Strike Power, Three Technique, 7-5 favorite Mischevious Alex, and Miles Ahead.

This was the third career stakes win for the Kentucky-bred Lexitonian, who captured the Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico and the Concern S. at Laurel in 2019. Prior graded placings occurred in the the 2019 Phoenix (G2), 2020 Bing Crosby (G1), and in the May 1 Churchill Downs (G1), which he lost by a head as a 46-1 outsider. His record now stands at 19-5-2-2, $687,682.

The five-year-old Lexitonian is by sprint champion Speightstown, who captured the 2004 Vanderbilt, and out of Riviera Romper, a daughter of Tapit and Test (G1) heroine Swap Fliparoo.