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The largest payoff in Blue Grass S. (G1) history prior to Saturday's $750,000 renewal at Keeneland was in 1970, when the unheralded Illinois-bred Dust Commander paid $72.80. Dust Commander returned nine days later to capture the Kentucky Derby, and the connections of STATELY VICTOR (Ghostzapper) hope for the same outcome three weeks from now after seeing their colt blow away a field of nine as the 40-1 longest shot in the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack event.
ENDORSEMENT (Distorted Humor), who punched his ticket to the May 1 Kentucky Derby (G1) by winning the Sunland Park Derby (G3), had his first work since that March 28 victory on Friday, breezing a half-mile on Keeneland's Polytrack in :46 4/5 under trainer Shannon Ritter.
Keeneland clockers caught Endorsement in fractions of :11 2/5, :23, :34 3/5 and galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 1/5.
"He did it very easily and galloped out strong," Ritter said. "The track is fast this morning after the little bit of rain it got yesterday."
From Keeneland Friday barn notes:
Trainer Tom Albertrani has been down this road before.
In 2006, Albertrani won the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) with Deputy Glitters. He repeated the feat this spring with ODYSSEUS (Malibu Moon), who will break from post position 1 under Rajiv Maragh in Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland. Odysseus is listed as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.
KENTUCKY / RAMSEY’S PLEASANT PRINCE FAVORED OVER EIGHT RIVALS IN TOYOTA BLUE GRASS – Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Pleasant Prince, narrowly beaten by Ice Box in the Florida Derby (Grade I), and Padua Stables’ Odysseus, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (GIII), will attempt to ensure their participation in next month’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) at Churchill Downs when they face seven rivals in Saturday’s $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) on the synthetic Polytrack course at Keeneland.
WEST / OAKS FAVORITE BLIND LUCK TO TRAIN FOR OAKS IN CALIFORNIA – Blind Luck, the winner of last week’s Fantasy (Grade II) at Oaklawn Park and the early favorite for the 136th running of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI) at Churchill Downs on April 30, will train in California until just before America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies.
Jill Byrne analyzes the upcoming Derby prep races
Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful NOBLE'S PROMISE (Cuvee) has been supplemented to the English Derby (Eng-G1) at Epsom Downs, it was announced Thursday. The historic test, held at about 1 1/2 miles on turf, is scheduled for June 5. It cost £8,000 to make the Ken McPeek pupil eligible for the English classic at the second entry stage.
Noble's Promise, who was just caught by Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike) in the Rebel S. (G2) last time out, is a top contender in Saturday's Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park.
From Thursday's Keeneland notes:
On a soggy Thursday morning at Keeneland, the waiting game was on at Barn 33.
"We are going to wait it out," said Dan Blacker, assistant to trainer Tom Albertrani and exercise rider for Padua Stables' ODYSSEUS (Malibu Moon), the 7-2 morning-line second choice for Saturday's Blue Grass S. (G1). Odysseus will break from post position 1.
NOBLE'S PROMISE (Cuvee) held the lead in the stretch of Oaklawn Park's Rebel S. (G2) on March 13 while making his seasonal bow, but was just caught on the wire and nipped by a head for the victory that day. Three lengths farther back in that 1 1/16-mile test came DUBLIN (Afleet Alex), and the pair will pick up where they left on Saturday in the feature event of the Oaklawn meet, the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1).