West Point Thoroughbreds' KING CONGIE (Badge of Silver) put in his final major work for Saturday's $750,000 Blue Grass (G1) by working five furlongs on Keeneland's Polytrack in 1:00 3/5.
Working on his own and with jockey Rajiv Maragh up, the Tropical Park Derby winner reeled off fractions of :12 4/5, :24 3/5, :36 1/5 and :48 4/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 1/5.
"Everything went according to plan," Maragh said. "He seemed like he handled the track fine."
The Blue Grass will mark the first race on Polytrack for King Congie, who won his first two starts on turf and was disqualified out of a third victory in his most recent start in the Hallandale Beach on February 6 at Gulfstream Park.
Monday's work also reunited Maragh with King Congie, whom he last rode six months ago under different circumstances than the duo will face Saturday. The October race was a 5 1/2-furlong sprint on dirt.
King Congie was being pointed to the Spiral S. (G3) on March 26 at Turfway Park, but never made the race.
"He had a strained hind muscle that we noticed the day before the race," said Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds. "We thought he would run well there. After that, our options were the Blue Grass or the Lexington ([G3] on April 23), but the Blue Grass is $750,000."
King Congie has no graded stakes earnings, and the $450,000 winner's check of the Blue Grass would put him in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 7. First place in the $200,000 Lexington would be worth $120,000.
King Congie is trained by Tom Albertrani, who had another potential Blue Grass starter work Monday morning in BRILLIANT SPEED (Dynaformer). Owned by the Live Oak Plantation, the multiple stakes-placed colt worked a half-mile in :51 over a fast track at Palm Meadows in Florida.
Rounding out the Blue Grass works, Lecomte (G3) winner WILKINSON (Lemon Drop Kid), sixth in his most recent start in the Louisiana Derby (G2), worked five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 over a fast track at Churchill Downs for trainer Neil Howard.
In other Blue Grass news:
SANTIVA (Giant's Causeway), second in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) here last October, returned to Keeneland on Sunday in advance of his Blue Grass tilt. The experience the colt has over Keeneland's Polytrack was among the factors in the decision to race him in the Blue Grass, trainer Eddie Kenneally said.
"I think it's a good choice for this horse," he said.
After the Breeders' Futurity, in which he was saddled by Todd Pletcher, Santiva won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in his first start for Kenneally. The colt currently is 18th in graded stakes earnings for horses under consideration for the Kentucky Derby.
"I think he could have a very good three-year-old year," Kenneally said. "He's matured, strengthened up and mentally he's very, very good."
On Saturday, Santiva turned in his final work for the Blue Grass, working five furlongs at Kenneally's winter base Palm Meadows in Florida, where Brendan Walsh oversees the string. The colt was clocked in 1:00 for the move.
Julien Leparoux will ride Santiva in the Blue Grass.
At Keeneland on Monday morning, Rushaway runner-up CRIMSON CHINA (Giant's Causeway) galloped 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Leo Molina; Breeders' Futurity third WILLCOX INN (Harlan's Holiday) jogged a little more than a mile under Freddy Alvarado, accompanied by a pony; and Rushaway winner SWIFT WARRIOR (First Samurai) jogged one lap and galloped twice around on the training track with Eliel DeJesus up.
Trainer John Terranova's plans for Swift Warrior call for a work on the turf course Tuesday, but forecast heavy rain beginning Monday afternoon could scuttle any grass action in the morning.
"I've got a day to play with and I don't have to do too much with him," Terranova said of Swift Warrior, who won the Rushaway at Turfway Park on March 26 in his Polytrack debut. "Training at Palm Meadows gets them pretty fit. He has run well on dirt and turf in Florida and the big question with him was the Polytrack and how would he handle it."
A late addition to the prospective Blue Grass field is CLARKE LANE (Giant's Causeway), owned by IEAH Stables and the Pegasus Holding Group. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Clarke Lane was a fast-closing second in his U.S. debut on April 3 at Santa Anita. He raced in England as a two-year-old.
Clarke Lane is scheduled to arrive at Keeneland on Tuesday from Southern California along with a handful of other horses pointing to upcoming stakes. Among those scheduled to arrive Tuesday are Evening Jewel (Northern Afleet) (for Thursday's Madison S. [G1]), Eclair de Lune (Ger) (Marchand de Sable), (for Saturday's Jenny Wiley S. [G2]), Turbulent Descent (Congrats) and Home Sweet Aspen (Candy Ride [Arg]) (for Sunday's Beaumont S. [G2]) and Kinsale King (Yankee Victor) (for Saturday's Shakertown S. [G3]).
The post position draw for the Blue Grass will be held Wednesday, from 11:30 a.m.-noon (EDT), in the Limestone Cafe of the Keeneland Sales Pavilion. TVG will provide live coverage.