From the Media Team at Keeneland:


Today is a blockbuster day of racing at Keeneland with five graded stakes worth $2.25 million. The richest is the 94th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2), the most famous race at Keeneland and one of the most storied events in all of Thoroughbred racing. For the fourth consecutive year, the race for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles is worth $1 million and is being run on the first Saturday of the Spring Meet – four weeks before the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).

The Toyota Blue Grass is one of two million-dollar stakes at Keeneland. The purse of the Fall Meet’s Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) was increased to $1 million in 2014.

The Toyota Blue Grass is being run the same day as the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), a premier prep for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1). The Central Bank Ashland, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, has produced 33 fillies that went on to win the Oaks. In 2015, Lovely Maria won the Central Bank Ashland and Kentucky Oaks. In 2016, Central Bank Ashland third-place finisher Cathryn Sophia returned to win the Oaks.

Three other graded stakes join the Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland: $300,000 Madison (G1), for fillies and mares going 7 furlongs; $200,000 Shakertown (G2), for older horses at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and $250,000 Commonwealth (G3), for older horses at 7 furlongs.

Here is additional information about the Toyota Blue Grass to aid in your coverage:

Kentucky Derby points: The winner of the Toyota Blue Grass earns 100 points as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, a points-based system with a series of key races offering escalating points to determine which horses will compete in the $2 million Kentucky Derby.

The second-place finisher in the Toyota Blue Grass earns 40 points, followed by 20 points to the third-place finisher and 10 points to the fourth-place finisher.

History: The Blue Grass was named for the famous Bluegrass region of Central Kentucky and held in 1911-1914 and 1919-1926 at the old Kentucky Association track near downtown Lexington. Second-place finishers Meridian (1911), Donerail (1913) and Behave Yourself (1921) went on to win the Kentucky Derby. The 1926 winner, Bubbling Over, became the first horse to win the Blue Grass and the Kentucky Derby.

With the closure of the Kentucky Association track, a group of prominent area Thoroughbred breeders went to work to return racing to Lexington. In 1935, they founded the Keeneland Association, purchased land from horseman J.O. “Jack” Keene and set out to open a model race track. Keeneland opened on Oct. 15, 1936, for nine days of racing. In April 1937, Keeneland held its inaugural Spring Meet of 11 days and ran the Blue Grass for the first time.

The winner of the first Blue Grass at Keeneland was Maxwell Howard’s Fencing, who won by three-quarters of a length over Col. E.R. Bradley’s favored pair of Billionaire and Brooklyn, who finished noses apart for second. Nine days later at Churchill Downs, Fencing and Billionaire raced back in the Kentucky Derby, inaugurating a pattern that future Derby hopefuls would follow.

Blue Grass-Kentucky Derby connection: Ten winners of the Blue Grass at Keeneland have won the Kentucky Derby. Nineteen horses who ran in the race at Keeneland returned to win the Derby.

Toyota sponsorship: In 1996, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (located in Georgetown), five area Toyota dealerships and Toyota Motor Sales in Cincinnati teamed to sponsor the Blue Grass, marking Toyota’s first sponsorship of a horse race.

The automotive giant is a strong supporter of Keeneland. The two share a commitment of giving back to the community. Toyota has contributed more than $122 million to charitable organizations in Kentucky.

Post positions: Here are the post positions and the number of Toyota Blue Grass winners each post position has produced since 1937 (the race was run in two divisions in 1951):

Post     No. of Winners
1                      13
2                      12
3                      10
4                      14
5                      11
6                      6 (including Irap, 2017)                        3
8                      6
9                      2
10                    2
11                    2
12                    0
13                    1 (Goyamo, 1954)
14                    0

The shortest-priced favorite to win was Spectacular Bid (1979), who went off at .05-1 (1-20). He paid $2.10.

The longest shot to win was Stately Victor (2010), who went off at 40.10-1 in 2010. He paid $82.20.

The last time the post-time favorite won was 2015 when Carpe Diem was 2-5.

Largest margin of victory: The largest margin of victory was turned in by Arts and Letters, who won the 1969 race by 15 lengths. He was followed by Alydar (13-length winner in 1978) and Sinister Minister (12¾-length winner in 2006).

Fastest times: The stakes record is 1:47 1/5, set by Skip Away in 1996. The track record for
1 1/8 miles is 1:47.75 set by 5-year-old Noble Bird when he won the Hagyard Fayette (G2) on Oct. 29, 2016.

Maiden winner: In 2017, Irap became the first maiden to win the race. He paid $64.60 to win.

Largest fields: Fourteen horses ran in the race in 1954, 1974, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

Wagering: All-sources wagering reached a record $21,736,983 during the 11-race 2016 Toyota Blue Grass card. Keeneland’s record for single-day on-track handle was $3,599,647 on April 16, 2005, day of the Toyota Blue Grass.

TV and radio coverage: The Toyota Blue Grass will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network from 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET.

As always, all Keeneland races are streamed live on and on the Keeneland Race Day App.

Horse Racing Radio Network, the Eclipse Award-winning broadcast organization, will provide live coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass and other Keeneland stakes from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Coverage is available via live streaming on the HRRN website,


Graduates of Keeneland Sales: Ten entrants are graduates of Keeneland sales. At the 2016 September Yearling Sale, Marconi sold for $2 million and Good Magic brought $1 million. Other horses sold at that sale were Free Drop Billy ($200,000) Gotta Go ($250,000), Machismo ($500,000), Sporting Chance ($575,000), Tiz Mischief ($55,000) and Zing Zang ($300,000). Also offered at the sale were Blended Citizen and Determinant. Sporting Chance sold as a weanling for $275,000 at Keeneland’s 2015 November Breeding Stock Sale. Machismo sold as a 2-year-old for $140,000 at the 2017 November Sale. Flameaway sold for $150,000 as a yearling at the 2016 January Horses of All Ages Sale.

Pedigree Notes
Tapit, North America’s leading sire in 2014-2016, is the sire of three entrants: Determinant, Marconi and Zing Zang. Tapit’s sire, Pulpit, won the Blue Grass in 1997.

Tiznow, sire of Sporting Chance, sired 2017 winner Irap.

Julien Leparoux (Kathanka) has two wins: Java’s War (2013) and Irap (2017). He is riding in the race for the 10th consecutive year and 12th time overall.

Luis Saez (Sporting Chance) won the race on Brody’s Cause (2016).

Riding in the race for the first time is Fernando De La Cruz (Arawak), Kyle Frey (Blended Citizen), Ryan Moore (Marconi), Irad Ortiz Jr. (Free Drop Billy) and Jacob Radosevich (Machismo).

Todd Pletcher (Marconi) is seeking a record fourth win following Bandini (2005), Monba (2008) and Carpe Diem (2015).

  1. Wayne Lukas (Sporting Chance) won the race with War (1987) and High Yield (2000).

Dale Romans (Free Drop Billy) won the race with Dullahan (2012) and Brody’s Cause (2016).

Mike Maker (California Night) won the race with Stately Victor (2010).

Doug O’Neill (Arawak, Blended Citizen) won the race with Irap (2017).

Sending out their first starters in the race is Jerry Hollendorfer (Kanthaka) and Anthony Quartarolo (Machismo)

Albaugh Family Stables (Free Drop Billy) won the race in 2016 with Brody’s Cause.

Marconi’s owners includes Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, who have prior wins in the race. In partnership with Bob and Beverly Lewis, Tabor and Magnier won the race with High Yield (2000). Tabor and Smith won the 2005 running with Bandini.


Keeneland Racing Analyst Tom Leach talked to these trainers and jockeys with horses in Keeneland stakes today and tomorrow:

Trainer Brad Cox on Monomoy Girl in today’s Central Bank Ashland (G1) and Will Call in the Shakertown (G2); and Lounge Act in Sunday’s Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association and Kelly’s Humor in Sunday’s Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select.

Trainer Tim Glyshaw on Bucchero in today’s Shakertown (G2).

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione on Salty in today’s Madison (G1).

Trainer Kenny McPeek on Eskimo Kisses in the Central Bank Ashland and Sunny Skies in the Beaumont Presented by Keeneland Select.

Trainer Rusty Arnold on Cash Out in Sunday’s Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association.


Susan and Jim Hill’s Daddy Is a Legend produced one of the most impressive victories at Keeneland last fall with a sweeping triumph going 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

“I’m not really sure what she beat in that but we were kind of expecting a performance like that,” trainer George Weaver said. “From there, she went out to win the Jimmy Durante (G3) at Del Mar.”

A winner of two races from four starts, Daddy Is a Legend will make her 2018 debut Sunday in the 30th running of the $200,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association going a mile on the turf.

“There were not a lot of options after the Durante,” Weaver said. “She came back to Margaux Farm (in nearby Midway, Kentucky) and then came to Keeneland three weeks ago. We are ready to get started.”

The Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Scat Daddy is “not the best gate horse and that puts her at a disadvantage,” Weaver said. “But she has a good turn of foot that can offset that.”

In the Appalachian, Daddy Is a Legend will partnered by regular rider Joe Bravo and break from post position one. Breaking next to her will be Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner RushingFall.

The two met in September at Belmont Park with Rushing Fall prevailing by 1¼ lengths.

“She was green in her debut and we put blinkers on her for her next start,” Weaver said. “Rushing Fall got her the first time and if we don’t get her Sunday, maybe then somewhere down the road.”


Red Baron’s Barn’s Itsinthepost (FR), winner of last year’s Dixiana Elkhorn (G2), headlines a roster of 41 nominations for this year’s renewal of the $250,000 grass test at 1½ miles.

To be run for the 33rd time, the Dixiana Elkhorn is scheduled for Saturday, April 21, with entries being taken April 18.

Trained by Jeff Mullins, Itsinthepost has added four Grade 2 wins since the Dixiana Elkhorn, including three this year at Santa Anita: San Gabriel, San Marcos and San Luis Rey.

Three horses have won the race in consecutive years with the most recent being Musketier (GER) in 2010-2011.

Other nominees of note are Grade 1 winners Bigger Picture and Bullards Alley; Arklow, winner of last year’s American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs, and Big Bend, winner of the 2017 Sycamore (G3), the fall equivalent of the Dixiana Elkhorn.


Stonestreet Stables’ Valadorna, runner-up in the 2016 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), tops a roster of 30 fillies and mares nominated to the 24th running of the $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (G3) to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track Friday, April 20.

Entries for the Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare will be taken April 15.

Other names of note among the nominations are Hidden Brook Farm and Hare Forest Farm’s Unchained Melody, winner of the Mother Goose (G2) last year, and John Gunther’s Tiger Moth, a two-time Grade 3 winner.


In Friday’s opening-day Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3), William H. Lawrence’s Analyze It stormed to a 5¼-length victory to win his 2018 debut and remain unbeaten in three starts. The win marked jockey Jose Ortiz’s third victory of the afternoon.

While Analyze It’s dominating performance produced a clear winner, the horses that finished second and third behind the winner were separated by just a nose.

With his second runner-up finish to go with a victory in three starts this year Lothenbach Stables’ Captivating Moon continued his solid 2018 campaign.

“He is fine this morning,” said Neil Pessin, who saddled Captivating Moon for trainer Chris Block. “The winner ran like what they said he was.”

Pessin said two spots were likely for Captivating Moon.

“There is the ($300,000) American Turf (G2, run at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs on May 5) or the Arlington Triple turf series,” Pessin said of the series at the suburban Chicago track that begins with the Arlington Classic (G3) on May 26 at 1 1/16 miles.

Trainer Barbara Minshall reported that Hoolie Racing Stable and Bruce Lunsford’s Admiralty Pier was fine after finishing third in his 2018 debut.

“I was thrilled with him,” Minshall said of Admiralty Pier, who had not raced since winning the Display at Woodbine on Dec. 2. “I expected him to run well and he handled the yielding surface well.”

The American Turf looms next on the radar for Admiralty Pier.

“We will stay here and then take a few over to Churchill Downs for Derby Week,” Minshall said. “If all goes well between now and then he’ll go to the American Turf and then we will pick our spots from there.” …

Owner Tom Durant and trainer Bret Calhoun swept the first two 2-year-old races Friday.

True Saint ($6.80) won the opener by 1¼ lengths under Corey Lanerie and two races later Shanghaied Roo ($9.20) prevailed by 2¼ lengths under Gabriel Saez. Durant bred both colts.

For Saez, Shanghaied Roo was the first of three consecutive winners. Saez won the fourth on Heaven’s Creation ($4.80 and the fifth on Hold Her Tight ($9.60), both for trainer Larry Jones. …

Keeneland drew 3,151 students to Friday’s College Scholarship Day. A record $30,000 in scholarships, including two $10,000 Runhappy Scholarships, was awarded during the afternoon. Winners of the Runhappy Scholarship were two University of Kentucky students: Connor O’Brien of Boston and Laura Grueneberg of Louisville. The Runhappy Scholarships are presented by Jim and Linda McIngvale, owners of champion Runhappy, who stands at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky.


Here are the prospective fields for Keeneland’s April 13-14 stakes compiled by Keeneland Stakes Coordinator Tiffany Bourque. Click here for a link to the lists of nominations and past performances.

$300,000 MAKER’S 46 MILE (G1) (Entries taken Sunday; race Friday) – Probable: Ballagh Rocks (trainer Bill Mott), Heart to Heart (Brian Lynch), Hogy (Mike Maker), Hollywood Hideaway (Barbara Minshall), Mr. Misunderstood (Brad Cox), Next Shares (Richard Baltas), Om (Dan Hendricks). Possible: World Approval (Mark Casse).

$350,000 COOLMORE JENNY WILEY (G1) (Entries taken Wednesday; race Saturday, April 14) – Probable: Cambodia (Tom Proctor), Dona Bruja (ARG) (Ignacio Correas IV), Fourstar Crook (Chad Brown), La Coronel (Mark Casse), Lovely Bernadette (James DiVito), Off Limits (IRE) (Chad Brown), Sistercharlie (IRE) (Chad Brown), Ultra Brat (Graham Motion). Possible: Hawksmoor (IRE) (Arnaud Delacour), Kitten’s Roar (Mike Maker), Proctor’s Ledge (Brendan Walsh).

$200,000 BEN ALI (G3) (Entries taken Wednesday; race Saturday, April 14) – Probable: Aurora Way (Stuart Simon), Giuseppe the Great (Nick Zito), Rated R Superstar (Kenny McPeek).

$200,000 STONESTREET LEXINGTON (G3) (Entries taken Wednesday; race Saturday, April 14) – Probable: Battle At Sea (Mike Maker), City Plan (Eoin Harty), Greyvitos (AdamKitchingman), Pony Up (Todd Pletcher), Telekinesis (Mark Casse).

$100,000 GIANT’S CAUSEWAY (L) (Entries taken Wednesday; race Saturday, April 14) – Probable: Brave Daisey (Tina Hurley), Contributing (Tom Proctor), Lady Aurelia (Wesley Ward), Morticia (Rusty Arnold), Smiling Causeway (Arnaud Delacour), Triple Chelsea (Joe Sharp).