A field of 10 or 11 is anticipated by Keeneland racing secretary Ben Huffman for the 87th running of the $750,000 Blue Grass (G1) on April 16, centerpiece of the 15-day spring meeting that begins Friday and runs through April 29.
Topping the list of probables is Tom Walters' SANTIVA (Giant's Causeway), runner-up in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) here last fall and winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs to close out 2010. Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Santiva finished second in his 2011 debut, the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds in February.
Others considered as probable for the 1 1/8-mile test are Team Valor International's CRIMSON CHINA (Giant's Causeway), Stuart Janney III's DATA LINK (War Front), Joseph Witek's JOES BLAZING AARON (Graeme Hall), West Point Thoroughbreds' KING CONGIE (Badge of Silver) Richlyn Farm's POWHATAN COUNTY (Fusaichi Pegasus), Mill House's QUEEN'SPLATEKITTEN (Kitten's Joy), James Covello and James Dolan's SWIFT WARRIOR (First Samurai), Gaillardia Racing's WILKINSON (Lemon Drop Kid) and All In Stable's WILLCOX INN (Harlan's Holiday). Considered as possible for the Blue Grass is California-based JAKESAM (Smoke Glacken), owned by Bourque Goldstein Thoroughbreds.
Four of the probables are at Keeneland and all four were on the track Monday morning.
Willcox Inn, third in last fall's Breeders' Futurity, galloped Monday for trainer Mike Stidham. Willcox Inn worked five furlongs in :59 2/5 on Friday and Stidham said the colt would have his final breeze for the Blue Grass this weekend. Rosie Napravnik, who was the leading rider at the just concluded Fair Grounds meet, is scheduled to ride Willcox Inn in the Blue Grass.
Swift Warrior, winner of the Rushaway at Turfway Park in his most recent start, galloped under exercise rider Eliel De Jesus. Trainer John Terranova is expected to be at Keeneland on Tuesday.
Heather Craig, assistant to trainer Graham Motion, was aboard for Crimson China's gallop, while Dan Blacker, assistant to trainer Tom Albertrani, manned the reins as King Congie jogged early Monday morning. Both Motion and Albertrani are scheduled to be at Keeneland this weekend.
A field of eight three-year-olds is expected to pass the entry box on Tuesday for the 23rd running of the Transylvania (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the grass on Friday, the opening-day feature.
Headlining the list of probables according to Huffman, is Team Valor International's PLUCK (More Than Ready), winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) last fall at Churchill Downs. Trained by Graham Motion, Pluck finished fourth in his 2011 debut on March 12 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Lining up to challenge Pluck will be Grant Heider, John Kuehl and David Conway's LIL BIT O'FUN (Langfuhr) who defeated Pluck by 2 1/2 lengths in their March meeting at Tampa. Lil Bit O'Fun is trained by Tom Proctor.
Other likely starters include Stuart Janney III's AIR SUPPORT (Smart Strike), winner of the Pilgrim (G3) last fall at Belmont Park; Richard Duchossois' BARRINGTON ROAD (Tiznow); Millennium Farms' GREAT MILLS (War Front); Vladmir Kazakov's LEGENDARY KING (Brahms); Jim Ford, Steve Russell and Ken Smole's MEMEN (Ire) (Verglas [Ire]); and Bruno DeJulio, Galen Ho'o and Molly Jo Rosen's RONIN DAX (Tapit).