Champion Shanghai Bobby, and fellow top Kentucky Derby contenders Orb, Verrazano, and Hear the Ghost lead the 189 three-year-olds nominated to this year's Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes to be run April 13 at Keeneland. A late nomination period closes March 27.
Currently, 23 of the top 25 point earners on the Road to the Kentucky Derby are nominated to the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass, one of the nation's richest three-year-old preps. Click here for the complete list of nominees.
Champion two-year-old colt and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby headlines the 189 nominees, which are up from last year's total of 180. Also nominated are the winners of nearly every major Derby prep to date, including Orb (Grade 2 Fountain of Youth), Verrazano (Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby), Hear the Ghost (Grade 2 San Felipe), Flashback (Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis), Goldencents (Grade 3 Sham), Falling Sky (Grade 3 Sam F. Davis), Oxbow (Grade 3 Lecomte), Itsmyluckyday (Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes), Overanalyze (Grade 2 Remsen), Power Broker (Grade 1 FrontRunner) and Super Ninety Nine (Grade 3 Southwest).
"The Toyota Blue Grass nominees represent the most talented three-year-old colts currently on the Derby trail," Keeneland Vice President of Racing W.B. Rogers Beasley said. "We appreciate the strong support of our horsemen, and look forward to an exciting spring meet."
Todd Pletcher leads all trainers with 20 Blue Grass nominees, highlighted by Shanghai Bobby and Verrazano. Bob Baffert is represented by 15 nominees, among them Flashback, Power Broker, Super Ninety Nine and Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes winner Shakin It Up, while Kiaran McLaughlin nominated 12.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum's Darley Stable led owners with eight nominations, followed by Gary and Mary West with seven and Ken and Sarah Ramsey with six.
The Blue Grass was first held at the old Kentucky Association track in Lexington from 1911-14 and from 1919-26, and revived by Keeneland during the track's inaugural spring meeting, held in April 1937. In all, 23 horses -- four at the Kentucky Association track and 19 at Keeneland -- have used the Blue Grass as a path to victory in the Kentucky Derby, most recently champion Street Sense in 2007.
Donegal Racing's Dullahan exploded in deep stretch to run down favored Hansen and win the 2012 Blue Grass. In doing so, Dullahan became only the second horse to win Keeneland's Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity as a two-year-old and return the following spring to win the Blue Grass, joining Horse of the Year Round Table (1956-57).
NBC will provide live coverage of the Blue Grass from 4:30-6 p.m. (EDT) on April 13. Lexington's NBC affiliate, WLEX TV, will broadcast live from Keeneland from 3:30-4:30 p.m.