A full gate of 14 runners is looking like a strong possibility for the 90th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass on April 12, the centerpiece of the 15-day Keeneland Spring Meet that opens Friday.
According to Racing Secretary Ben Huffman and Stakes Coordinator Scott Jones, 13 horses are considered as probable and another three are possible for the 1 1/8-mile test that offers 170 points toward the 140th Kentucky Derby, with 100 points going to the winner and a guaranteed spot in the starting gate.
The Blue Grass is limited to 14 starters. If more than 14 are entered April 9, preference will be given to graded stakes winners and then highest earnings. Only three runnings of the Blue Grass have attracted 14-horse fields: 1954, 1974 and 2013.
Heading the list of probables is Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Bobby's Kitten. Trained by Chad Brown, Bobby's Kitten won the Pilgrim last fall at Belmont and finished third as the favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita. Bobby's Kitten won his 2014 debut at Tampa Bay Downs on March 9.
Also on the probable list are the one-two finishers from the Palm Beach at Gulfstream, Gala Award and Mr Speaker, and the respective second through fifth finishers from the Spiral -- Harry's Holiday, Coastline, Asserting Bear and Big Bazinga.
Expected to venture to Keeneland from California is Dance With Fate, runner-up in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate in his most recent start. Trained by Peter Eurton, Dance With Fate finished second in the FrontRunner and Del Mar Futurity as a two-year-old.
Other probables for the race, which Java's War won in 2013, are Divine Oath, Extrasexyhippzster, Pablo Del Monte, Vinceremos and Woodfield Springs.
Possible entrants include Cleburne, Danza and Ring Weekend. Cleburne and Ring Weekend were both entered in this Saturday's Calder Derby, which is not a points-scoring race on the road to the Kentucky Derby.
Three-year-olds will also be in the spotlight during Keeneland's opening weekend.
The first of the meet's five Grade 1s is Saturday's $500,000 Ashland at 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack. Entries will be taken Wednesday for the race. As of Monday 10 fillies were considered as probable for the race, according to Jones, and topping that list are Testa Rossi and Rosalind.
Testa Rossi, a stablemate of Bobby's Kitten's from the Brown barn, won the Miss Grillo and ran second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf to complete 2013. In her 2014 debut, she won the Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs.
Rosalind, trained by Ken McPeek, finished second in the Alcibiades here and was a narrowly beaten third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita. McPeek won the 2002 Ashland with Take Charge Lady.
Other probables include Candy Kitty, Interrupted, Naive Enough, On the Backstreets, Resistivity, Room Service, Seeking Her Glory and Thank You Marylou. Possible entrants include Macaroon and Saturday Bliss.