The Craig Stables and Donkey Island Racing's Holy Candy is the only entrant among 13 for Saturday's 88th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass to enter the race off a maiden victory. It is a move that trainer John Sadler does not often make, especially when the move requires shipping across country from his Southern California base.
"It is not something I do every day," Sadler said. "I did it with Line of David a couple of years ago. He had won two, and I took him to Arkansas and he jumped up and won the (Grade 1) Arkansas Derby."
After starting his career with three runner-up finishes, Holy Candy broke through in his most recent start on March 23, winning by 3 1/2 lengths while going a mile under Joel Rosario.
"He was very impressive breaking his maiden," Sadler said. "You have to see the tape of the race. He galloped out 20 lengths in front of the field. You get one shot (at the Kentucky Derby) and it is hard not to try."
Sadler entered Holy Candy in last Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, but opted to scratch out of that race in favor of the Blue Grass.
"He was 8-1 for the Santa Anita Derby," Sadler said of Holy Candy, who is 30-1 on the Blue Grass line. "I thought the extra week would be an advantage. He has trained a lot on the synthetic at Hollywood Park and trained well on it."
Rosario, who won the Blue Grass last year aboard Brilliant Speed, has the mount Saturday on Holy Candy, who will break from post position 9.
Holy Candy galloped 1 1/2 miles on the Polytrack Thursday morning with exercise rider Lupillo Alferez up.
In addition to Holy Candy, all other Blue Grass entrants stabled at Keeneland had regular morning exercise.
Trainer Gennadi Dorochenko had both of his hopefuls on the Polyrack. Grade 2 Louisiana Derby winner Hero of Order galloped at better than a two-minute lick according to clockers, and then Russian Greek had a similar activity that finished with a half-mile in :50.
Howe Great galloped 1 1/2 miles under Heather Craig, Midnight Crooner galloped 1 3/8 miles under Peter Hutton, and Politicallycorrect galloped 1 1/2 miles.
On the training track, Ever So Lucky galloped six furlongs under assistant trainer Barry Wiseman, and Heavy Breathing galloped under Nick Bush.
Trainer Mike Maker said that morning-line favorite Hansen and stablemate Gung Ho galloped at Louisville's Trackside Training Center. Maker said both horses would ship to Keeneland Thursday and be on the track Friday morning with an expected training time of 7:30 (EDT).
At Churchill Downs, Dullahan, Prospective and Scatman galloped. All three horses are scheduled for similar activity on Friday and then van to Keeneland on Saturday.