Three weeks out from the Kentucky Derby (G1), there are a lot of places owners and trainers of classic hopefuls would rather be than on the bubble. For the nine colts entered in Saturday's $750,000 Blue Grass S. (G1), the nine-furlong Polytrack heat at Keeneland offers an opportunity for most to shed that status and lock in a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs on May 1.
As was the case in last week's Ashland S. (G1), the filly counterpart to the Blue Grass, a California-based runner with positive experience on synthetic might prove to be the biggest danger. INTERACTIF (Broken Vow) is hoping to become the latest Todd Pletcher pupil to join the Derby field, and has a strong chance of doing so if able to repeat his second in the San Felipe S. (G2), where he finished a mere half-length behind subsequent Santa Anita Derby (G1) romper Sidney's Candy (Candy Ride [Arg]). Interactif has already displayed his talent once before a Keeneland throng, winning the Bourbon S. (G3) on the turf in October, and should be well-placed throughout by Rafael Bejarano.
Another West Coaster, MAKE MUSIC FOR ME (Bernstein), still has a bit more to find on synthetic. Multiple Grade 1-placed at two, he found the switch to turf more to his liking when taking the Pasadena S. at Santa Anita last time for career victory number one. The Alexis Barba pupil was only fourth in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) over the main track last fall.
AIKENITE (Yes It's True) could be the wild card based on his narrow second-place finish in the Breeders' Futurity. Though he failed to keep up with his contemporaries in Florida over the winter, the Dogwood Stable colorbearer's fondness for the Keeneland surface makes him a major threat. ODYSSEUS (Malibu Moon), meanwhile, is already a major prep winner having taken the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) with an improbable-looking re-rally in the stretch. Unfortunately, he could run himself out of the Derby picture if unable to adequately handle Polytrack in his first attempt.
PLEASANT PRINCE (Indy King), the 3-1 morning-line favorite off a tough beat in the Florida Derby (G1), lost a maiden claiming race here by five lengths in October, which is a cause for concern. Perhaps a better case could be made for FIRST DUDE (Stephen Got Even). Though only fifth in the Florida Derby, the Dale Romans charge closed well for second in his maiden special weight debut over this strip. PADDY O'PRADO (El Prado [Ire]) tries this kind of surface for the first time off a 2 1/2-length win in the Palm Beach S. (G3) on turf, where he beat subsequent Lane's End S. (G2) victor Dean's Kitten (Kitten's Joy).
Synthetic specialist CODOY (Bernstein), who was disqualified from first in the John Battaglia Memorial, is a potential sleeper though his deep-closing style might not work given how the track has played during the first several days of the meet.