(Keeneland / Photos by Coady Photography)

From the Keeneland Media Team / Amy Owens:

NOTES ABOUT TODAY’S 100TH RUNNING OF $1 MILLION TOYOTA BLUE GRASS

Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg and Brook Smith’s Sierra Leone is the 2-1 morning line favorite among the 10 3-year-olds set to run in today’s 100th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G1). Post time for the race is 5:52 p.m.

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

TV and online coverage: Thanks to the Keeneland Livestream, fans can watch all Spring Meet races live and at no charge onKeeneland.com, Keeneland Race Day App, Keeneland Select and Keeneland’s YouTube channel.

FanDuel TV begins live coverage of every Keeneland race day at noon. Today, FanDuel TV will have live exclusive coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass.

$1 million purse: The Toyota Blue Grass has been worth $1 million in 2015-2019 and since 2022.

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 150thrunning of the $5 million Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 4.

The second-place finisher in the Toyota Blue Grass earns 50 points, followed by 25 points to the third-place finisher, 15 points to fourth-place finisher and 10 points to the fifth-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 duo 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.

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          14 (Tapit Trice, 2023)
2          12
3          11
4          16
5          11
6          7

7          3

8          6
9          2
10        3

11        2
12        0
13        1 (Goyamo, 1954)
14        0


Wagering records on Toyota Blue Grass Day:
All-sources:
$28,137,728 on the 11-race 2022 Toyota Blue Grass card. (All-time Keeneland record.)

On-track: $2,968,451 from the 2012 Toyota Blue Grass. (All-time record for the Spring Meet.)

Odds
Shortest-priced favorite
to win: Spectacular Bid (1979), who went off at .05-1 (1-20). He paid $2.10.

Longest shot to win: Stately Victor (2010), who went off at 40.10-1. He paid $82.20.

Most recent post-time favorite to win: Tapit Trice, who won in 2023 at 8-5.

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).

Track record for 1 1/8 miles: 1:47.75 set by 5-year-old Noble Bird when he won the Hagyard Fayette (G2) on Oct. 29, 2016.

Keeneland sales graduates: Seven of the 11 entrants are alumni of Keeneland sales.

Be You, a $320,000 purchase at the 2022 September Yearling Sale. Consignor: Mill Ridge Sales, agent. Buyer: West Bloodstock, agent for Repole Stable.

Dornoch, a $325,000 purchase at the 2022 September Yearling Sale. Consignor: Runnymede Farm, agent. Buyer: Oracle Bloodstock, agent.

Epic Ride, a $160,000 purchase at the 2022 September Yearling Sale. Consignor: Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent. Buyer: Frank Alosa, agent for Welch Racing.

Good Money, a graduate of two sales. Offered as a weanling at the 2021 November Breeding Stock Sale. $100,000 purchase at the 2022 September Yearling Sale. Consignor: Eaton Sales, agent. Buyer: Calumet Farm.

Just a Touch was offered at the 2022 September Yearling Sale.

Lat Long is a graduate of two sales. $160,000 purchase as a weanling at the 2021 November Breeding Stock Sale. Consignor: Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent. Buyer: Brookstone Farm. $130,000 purchase at the 2022 September Yearling Sale. Consignor: St George Sales, agent. Buyer: Kenneth McPeek, agent for Walking L Thoroughbreds.

Top Conor, a $200,000 purchase at the September Yearling Sale. Consignor: Gainesway, agent. Buyer: Quarter Pole Enterprises.

Pedigrees:

Curlin (sire of Be You) sired 2018 winner Good Magic. Good Magic is the sire of Dornoch and Good Money.

Owners:

Raymond A. Hill III’s R. A. Hill Stable (co-owner of Dornoch) co-owned 2019 winner Vekoma.

Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor and Derrick Smith (members of the partnership that owns Sierra Leone) have won the race. Magnier and Tabor were partners in the ownership of 2000 winner High Yield (2000). Tabor and Smith raced Bandini(2005).

Breeders:

Alpha Delta Stables (Be You) bred Vekoma (2019).

Jamm Ltd. co-bred Monba (2008).

Trainers:
Todd Pletcher is bidding to become the seventh trainer to twice win the Blue Grass and Ashland in the same year. He won Friday’s Central Bank Ashland (G1) with Leslie’s Rose and is sending out Be You in the Toyota Blue Grass.

Pletcher has four Blue Grass wins: Bandini (2005), Monba (2008), Carpe Diem (2015) and Tapit Trice (2023).

Six trainers have won the Blue Grass and Ashland in the same year:

  • Ben Jones in 1948 (Coaltown and Bewitch)
  • Woody Stephens in 1949 (Halt and Tall Weeds)
  • George Poole in 1971 (Impetuosity and You All)
  • LeRoy Jolley in 1976 (Honest Pleasure and Optimistic Gal)
  • D. Wayne Lukas in 1987 (War and Chic Shirine)
  • Kenny McPeek in 2002 (Harlan’s Holiday and Take Charge Lady)

Chad Brown (Sierra Leone) has two wins: Good Magic (2018) and Zandon (2022).

McPeek (Lat Long) has two wins: Harlan’s Holiday (2002) and Java’s War (2013).

Lukas (Seize the Grey) has two wins: War (1987), High Yield (2000).

Brad Cox (Just a Touch) has one win: Essential Quality (2021).

Sending out their first starters are Jeff Engler (Mugatu) and Danny Gargan (Dornoch).

Jockeys:
Irad Ortiz Jr. is bidding to become the seventh rider to win the Blue Grass and Ashland in the same year. He won Friday’s Central Bank Ashland on Leslie’s Hope and is riding Be You in the Toyota Blue Grass.

Six jockeys have won the Blue Grass and Ashland in the same year:

  • Eddie Arcaro in 1942 (Shut Out and The Swallow)
  • N.L. Pierson in 1948 (Coaltown and Bewitch)
  • Conn McCreary in 1949 (Halt and Tall Weeds)
  • Braulio Baeza in 1976 (Honest Pleasure and Optimistic Gal)
  • Bill Shoemaker in 1982 (Linkage and Blush With Pride)
  • Mike Smith in 1994 (Holy Bull and Inside Information)

Luis Saez (Dornoch) has three wins: Brody’s Cause (2016), Essential Quality (2021) and Tapit Trice (2023)

Javier Castellano (Good Money) won on Vekoma (2019).

Brian Hernandez Jr. (Lat Long) won on Art Collector (2020).

Jose Ortiz (Top Conor) won on Good Magic (2018).

Riding in the race for the first time is Nik Juarez (Seize the Grey).

FIELD SET FOR $1 MILLION TOYOTA BLUE GRASS

The Toyota Blue Grass is the 10th race on today’s 11-race program with a 5:52 p.m. ET post time.

Here are the entrants:

Post Horse Trainer Jockey Morning Line Odds
1 Top Conor Chad Brown Jose Ortiz 15-1
2 Be You Todd Pletcher Irad Ortiz Jr. 8-1
3 Seize the Grey D. Wayne Lukas Nik Juarez 20-1
4 Dornoch Danny Gargan Luis Saez 3-1
5 Good Money Chad Brown Javier Castellano 20-1
6 Just a Touch Brad Cox Florent Geroux 7-2
7 Lat Long Kenny McPeek Brian Hernandez Jr. 30-1
8 Epic Ride John Ennis Adam Beschizza 20-1
9 Mugatu Jeff Engler Joe Talamo 30-1
10 Sierra Leone Chad Brown Tyler Gaffalione 2-1
11 Encino (SCRATCH) Brad Cox Flavien Prat 12-1

All starters carry 123 pounds.

LESLIE’S ROSE HEADED TO KENTUCKY OAKS FOLLOWING
CENTRAL BANK ASHLAND VICTORY

Trainer Todd Pletcher reported Saturday morning that both of his runners from Friday’s $600,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) “came back well” and now might be on separate paths going forward.

Whisper Hill Farm’s Leslie’s Rose is headed to Churchill Downs with a guaranteed spot in the starting gate for the 150th running of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 3 following her 3-length victory in the Central Bank Ashland.

“We are trying to sort things out, and we will let the dust settle from today,” Pletcher said. “The Oaks and Derby horses have to be on the grounds by 11 a.m. on April 27.”

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Candied, who finished fourth as the favorite, most likely lost her chance to make the Oaks. She picked up 15 qualifying points Friday to boost her total to 34, a figure good for 18th place on the leaderboard for the race that is limited to the top 14 point earners.

“It is too early to say on her, but she is pretty far down the list with two races to go today,” Pletcher said. “The ($300,000 George E. Mitchell) Black-Eyed Susan (G2) (at Pimlico on May 17) or the (DK Horse) Acorn (G1) (June 7) are possible. The Acorn is at Saratoga this year, and it is a mile and an eighth.”

The Central Bank Ashland was the first start of the year for Candied, who won the Darley Alcibiades (G1) here last fall.

“I thought it was a tough assignment for her,” Pletcher said. “She got shuffled back and had to make up a lot of ground.”

George Krikorian’s homebred Just F Y I, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2023, secured her spot in the Oaks starting gate with a runner-up finish in the Central Bank Ashland. She returned to trainer Bill Mott’s base at Churchill Friday evening.

AMERICAN TURF ON DERBY DAY LIKELY NEXT FOR TOP TWO
IN TRANSYLVANIA PRESENTED BY KEENELAND SELECT

Trainer Rob Atras thought he had his first Keeneland stakes winner in Red, White and Blue Racing’s Neat at the finish of the Transylvania (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select.

“I was watching on a TV monitor near the Paddock,” Atras said Saturday morning. “I thought he might have gotten his head down right at the wire, but I didn’t want to celebrate.

“It felt like 20 minutes. Before the numbers came up, the cameras were showing the 12 (Cugino) and then they showed the 4 (Neat). I thought, well at least I have a 50-50 chance.”

The photo did go Neat’s way, and he recorded his first graded stakes victory.

“He really showed up yesterday,” Atras said. “I never looked past this race beforehand. Now the ($600,000) American Turf (G2) is the next logical spot.”

The American Turf will be run May 4 at Churchill Downs going 1 1/16 miles.

Trainer Shug McGaughey said the American Turf for Cugino “is a possibility. We will see how he does.”

Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and Jimmy Kahig, Cugino emerged with the lead at midstretch only to be caught at the wire.

“I told (my son) Reeve that the last two stakes I’ve run here, I’ve gotten beat a nose,” McGaughey said, referring back to last fall when Talk of the Nation was edged in the Bryan Station (G3).

 

GLENGARRY STAYING AT KEENELAND FOLLOWING LAFAYETTE VICTORY

Initial plans called for Aaron Kennedy, Toby Joseph and trainer Doug Anderson’s Glengarry to return to Anderson’s base at Oaklawn Park on Sunday following a run in Friday’s 7-furlong Lafayette.

That all changed in a span of 1:22.91.

“He ran huge off a four-month layoff,” Anderson said of Glengarry’s 3½-length victory. “When they didn’t get him at the three-eighths, it was ‘Katie bar the door.’ He put everything into it and came back great. We are tickled pink.”

Next up for Glengarry will be the $600,000 Pat Day Mile (G2) Presented by SAP on May 4.

“Little guys don’t get many shots like this,” Anderson said. “We talked it over at dinner last night, and it didn’t make any sense to haul him back to Oaklawn and then haul him back. He loves this track to train, so we will see what we can get done.”

GINA ROMANTICA HEADLINES FIELD FOR JENNY WILEY

Peter Brant’s Gina Romantica will make her 2024 debut next Saturday when she headlines a field of 10 entered for the 36th running of the $600,000 Jenny Wiley (G1) for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

The Jenny Wiley will go as the ninth race on the 11-race program with a 5:16 p.m. ET post time. First post is a 1 p.m.

Gina Romantica will be making her first start since finishing fourth, beaten a length, against the boys in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) Presented by PDJF last November at Santa Anita.

Trained by Chad Brown, Gina Romantica is a two-time Grade 1 winner at Keeneland. She took the 2022 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Dixiana and the 2023 First Lady Presented by UK HealthCare. Tyler Gaffalione has the mount from post 6.

Brown, who has won five of the past six runnings of the Jenny Wiley and six overall, also will send out Head of Plains Partners’ Fluffy Socks, Klaravich Stables’ Surge Capacity and Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb and Louis Lazzinnaro’s Beaute Cachee (FR). Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount from post 2 on Fluffy Socks, Joel Rosario will pilot Surge Capacity from post 7 and Frankie Dettori will ride Beaute Cachee from post 10.

Chief rivals to Gina Romantica figure to be Merriebelle Stable’s Didia (ARG) and Godolphin’s English Rose (IRE).

Trained by Ignacio Correas IV, Didia returns to the races following a victory in the TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational (G2) at Gulfstream Park. Winner of six of eight races in the U.S., Didia will be ridden by Jose Ortiz from post 9.

Charlie Appleby trains English Rose, a winner of three of four starts with her most recent start producing a victory in the Balanchine (G2) in Dubai. William Buick has the mount from post 5.

The field for the Jenny Wiley is:

Post Horse Trainer Jockey Weight
1 Walkathon Ian Wilkes Julien Leparoux 123
2 Fluffy Socks Chad Brown Irad Ortiz Jr. 123
3 Elusive Princess (FR) Arnaud Delacour Junior Alvarado 123
4 Embrace Me Lance Rutledge Gerardo Corrales 123
5 English Rose (IRE) Charlie Appleby William Buick 123
6 Gina Romantica Chad Brown Tyler Gaffalione 123
7 Surge Capacity Chad Brown Joel Rosario 123
8 Star Fortress (IRE) Cherie DeVaux Luis Saez 123
9 Didia (ARG) Ignacio Correas IV Jose Ortiz 123
10 Beaute Cachee (FR) Chad Brown Frankie Dettori 123

HOLY BULL WINNER HADES LEADS FIELD FOR STONESTREET LEXINGTON

D.J. Stable and Robert Cotran’s Hades, winner of the Holy Bull (G3) in February at Gulfstream Park, headlines a field of 10 3-year-olds entered for next Saturday’s 42ndrunning of the $400,000 Stonestreet Lexington (G3) going 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

The Stonestreet Lexington will go as the 10th race on the 11-race program with a 5:48 p.m. ET post time.

The Stonestreet Lexington is the final race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and offers 42 points on a 20-10-6-4-2 scale to the first- through fifth-place finishers. The Kentucky Derby is limited to the top 20 point earners and invitees.

Trained by Joe Orseno, Hades has accumulated 30 points toward the Kentucky Derby. In his most recent start, Hades finished fifth in the Curlin Florida Derby (G1) Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa on March 30. Jose Ortiz has the mount from post 5.

Another Grade 3 winner in the gate will be Stephen and Evan Ferrado’s Liberal Arts. Trained by Robbie Medina, Liberal Arts won the Street Sense (G3) at Churchill Downs last fall and in his most recent start was placed eighth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) on March 30. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount from post 9.

The field for the Stonestreet Lexington is:

Post Horse Trainer Jockey Weight
1 Secret Chat Roderick Rodriguez Joel Rosario 118
2 The Wine Steward Mike Maker Luis Saez 118
3 Dilger (IRE) Saffie Joseph Jr. Tyler Gaffalione 118
4 Footprint Kenny McPeek Brian Hernandez 118
5 Hades Joe Orseno Jose Ortiz 120
6 How’s Ur Attitude John Ennis Adam Beschizza 118
7 Everdoit Kevin Rice Axel Concepcion 118
8 Encino Brad Cox Florent Geroux 118
9 Liberal Arts Robert Medina Irad Ortiz Jr. 118
10 Lucky Jeremy Bill Morey Gerardo Corrales 118

 

GIANT’S CAUSEWAY DRAWS OVERFLOW FIELD HEADED BY ROSES FOR DEBRA

Cheyenne Stable and John O’Meara’s Roses for Debra, who emerged as one of the top female turf sprinters in 2023, will make her 2024 debut next Saturday when she heads a field 12 plus one also-eligible for the 27th running of the $300,000 Giant’s Causeway (G3) for fillies and mares going 5 ½ furlongs on the turf.

The Giant’s Causeway will go as the seventh race on the 11-race program with a 4:12 p.m. ET post time.

Trained by Christophe Clement, Roses for Debra ran off four consecutive victories before tackling males in the Turf Monster (G3) at Parx Racing in which she finished third and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita in which she was ninth. Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the mount from post 8.

The field for the Giant’s Causeway is:

Post Horse Trainer Jockey Weight
1 Play the Music Mark Casse Jose Ortiz 122
2 Bling Vicki Oliver John Velazquez 122
3 Jill Jitterbug Ryan Walsh Luan Machado 122
4 Oeuvre Chris Block Jareth Loveberry 122
5 B G Warrior Hugo Andrade Albin Jimenez 122
6 Secret Money Brendan Walsh Tyler Gaffalione 124
7 Port Townsend Cherie DeVaux Brian Hernandez Jr. 122
8 Roses for Debra Christophe Clement Irad Ortiz Jr. 124
9 Kissed by Fire Peter Eurton Mike Smith 122
10 Breeze Easy (GB) Wayne Catalano Julien Leparoux 122
11 Elm Drive Philip D’Amato Luis Saez 122
12 Love Reigns (IRE) Wesley Ward Joel Rosario 122
13 (AE) High Class Steve Asmussen Brian Hernandez Jr. 122

 

TOYOTA BLUE GRASS WINNER TAPIT TRICE AMONG THIRD WEEKEND STAKES NOMINEES

Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable’s Tapit Trice, winner of last spring’s Toyota Blue Grass  (G1) here, tops a roster of 27 nominees for the 93rd running of the $300,000 Ben Ali (G3) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 3/16 miles on the main track on Saturday, April 20.

One of four nominees to the race for trainer Todd Pletcher, Tapit Trice completed his 2023 campaign with a third-place finish in the Travers (G1). Among the other Pletcher nominees is Spendthrift Farm’s Kingsbarns, winner of last year’s Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2).

Entries for the Ben Ali will be taken Saturday, April 23.

Godolphin’s Wet Paint, winner of last year’s Coaching Club of America Oaks (G1), heads a roster of 20 nominees for the 29th running of the $300,000 Baird Doubledogdare (G3) for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the main track on Friday, April 19.

One of four nominees to the race for trainer Brad Cox, Wet Paint is a three-time graded stakes winner. She has not started since finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Santa Anita in November.

Entries for the race will be taken Friday, April 12.

Defending champion Verstappen tops a list of 27 nominees for the 39th running of the $350,000 VisitLEX Elkhorn (G2) for 4-year-olds and up at 1½ miles on the grass on Saturday, April 20.

Owned by Andrew Farm, For the People Racing Stable and Debra O’Connor and trained by Brendan Walsh, he could become the fourth horse to win the Elkhorn in consecutive years.

Entries for the VisitLEX Elkhorn will be taken Saturday, April 13.

GALLOPING OUT

Winner of the meet’s first 2-year-old race on Friday, Ice Wine Stable and Smart Choice Stable’s Shoot It True is being pointed to a start in the $250,000 Kentucky Juvenile on May 2 at Churchill Downs, according to trainer Wesley Ward. Shoot It True, the only filly in a field of nine, cruised to a 7½-length victory in the 4½-furlong race. Her time was :52.04.

OPENING WEEK SPECIAL EVENTS

Throughout the Spring Meet, special events and activities will continue Keeneland’s historic mission to support the Central Kentucky community and the Thoroughbred industry. They include:

Year-round

Official Keeneland Tours. Click here for availability and to purchase.

Through Aug. 16

Keeneland Library is recognizing this year’s historic running of the Toyota Blue Grass at its free exhibit, A Rite of Spring: The 100th Running of the Blue Grass Stakes. The exhibit features photographs that capture race highlights curated from Keeneland Library collections and public submissions from professional and amateur photographers along with memorabilia from noted jockeys Bill Shoemaker, Mike Manganello and Chris Antley and celebrated runners Whirlaway, Riva Ridge, Spectacular Bid and Strike the Gold.

Open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Library is located on the Keeneland campus. Enter Keeneland at Gate 1 on Keeneland Blvd. and take the first right on Entertainment Ct. The Library is to the left of the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center.

 

Friday, Saturday and Sunday

The Hill. Keeneland’s popular tailgating area is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the Spring Meet, weather permitting. No ticket or reservation is required for The Hill, located adjacent to the Keene Barn & Entertainment Center and accessible via Gate 1 (at Man o’ War Blvd.) or Gate 4 (off Van Meter Road on the east side of Keeneland).

Fans on The Hill can watch the racing action via a jumbo TV and place their bets in a wagering tent while they enjoy live music presented by The Burl, food trucks and handicapping assistance from BETologists. Complimentary shuttles to the track are offered.

For fans who want to elevate their experience, Keeneland again is partnering with RevelXP to offer tailgate packages for groups of any size. RevelXP will organize tailgates by furnishing a designated tent, catering, amenities and more. Visit Keeneland.com/tailgating for full details.

The Hill is open from 8 a.m. to 60 minutes after the last race. Amenities are available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Keeneland Shop is open from 9 a.m. to 30 minutes following the final race. Milliners Corner, featuring Christine A. Moore (April 5-7), Wagering Central and Finish Line locations are open race days.