The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues April 6 with the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, a Championship Series race offering 100-40-20-10 qualifying points to the top-four finishers. A huge filed of 14 three-year-olds will chase their dreams hoping to cash in a top-two finish and secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Only two favorites have won the Blue Grass in the past 15 years – Good Magic (2018) and Carpe Diem (2015). The race in Lexington, Kentucky, returned to the dirt in 2015 after being run on a synthetic surface from 2007-2014.
The Blue Grass Stakes has produced 23 Kentucky Derby winners, but none since 1991 when Strike the Gold pulled off the Blue Grass/Derby double. Other memorable horses to win the Blue Grass and Kentucky Derby include Spectacular Bid (1979), Riva Ridge (1972) and Dust Commander (1970). Street Sense finished second in the 2007 Blue Grass and went on to win the Kentucky Derby.
Stately Victor (2010) is the biggest long shot to win the Blue Grass at 40-1 odds, and he paid a record $82.20 to win. Another big long shot, Irap (31-1) won the 2017 Blue Grass. Is there another big long shot capable of winning the 2019 Blue Grass? We’ve identified a few who could produce the next big payoff.
|4||Market King||J. Court||20-1|
|5||Chess Chief||P. Lopez||30-1|
|6||Dream Maker||F. Geroux||12-1|
|8||Win Win Win||I. Ortiz, Jr.||7-2|
|9||Sir Winston||J. Leparoux||15-1|
|10||Lucky Lee||C. Landeros||20-1|
|11||So Alive||L. Saez||15-1|
A modest pace with moderate pressure is expected, and Somelikeithotbrown should get a ground-saving trip from the rail. He lacks dirt experience, but is a good risk/reward at 10-1 odds. He has three wins in seven starts after winning the Jeff Ruby Stakes (G3) last month running brutally fast fractions and prevailing at this 1 1⁄8-mile distance. He’s proven on the turf against top competitors, finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), but his breeding says he’s fine on dirt.
Vekoma is the favorite and looks reliable after finishing third in the fast fractions of the Fountain of Youth (G3) last month. He’s now two-for-three and should be sitting just off the pacesetters with a ground saving trip. A move forward projects to another strong finish.
Signalman finished well-behind Vekoma in the Fountain of Youth, but a return to form off his top-three finishes last year in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) (3rd), Breeders’ Futurity (G1) (2nd) and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) (1st) and he’ll be your winner. Super sharp works leading into this suggests he’s ready to roll.
Aquadini is a long shot to include, as his uninterrupted form and improvement with a first and second in his recent starts at Fair Grounds makes him a logical long shot. He’s making his stakes debut, but is capable and has speed to be near front from outside and conserve energy to burst through to the finish.
Sir Winston is another capable long shot, and he was easily passing Win Win Win in last race and his gallop out was solid. If he gets enough pressure up front, his late kick and solid turn of foot will be rewarded.
A total of five top level graded stakes kicks off opening Saturday at Keeneland, headlined by Race 10, the Blue Grass Stakes with post time at 6:23 p.m. (ET).
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|8||Win Win Win 3-1||$4.00||$3.20|
|Super High Five||2/8/3/1/5||$4,124.30|