Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) winner Pyro and Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) winner Cool Coal Man headline a talented roster of 167 3-year-olds nominated to Keeneland’s $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), to be held Saturday, April 12.
The 1 1/8-mile Toyota Blue Grass is a premier prep race for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). Last year, trainer Carl Nafzger used the race as a final tune-up for his champion colt Street Sense, who won the Derby just three weeks after finishing second by a nose to Dominican in the Toyota Blue Grass.
“We are very excited by the depth and quality of this year’s nominations,” said Rogers Beasley, Keeneland’s director of racing. “Trainers often comment that their horses tend to thrive at Keeneland, which makes the Toyota Blue Grass a perfect fit for many Triple Crown contenders.”
2008 Toyota Blue Grass nominations, past performances, race charts, historical stats, photos, videos
Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s homebred Pyro, trained by Steve Asmussen, polished his Triple Crown credentials with a dazzling sophomore debut in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. At 2, the son of Pulpit was runner-up in both the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) and the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Also generating excitement on the Triple Crown trail is Robert LaPenta’s Cool Coal Man, upset winner of the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. The Mineshaft colt is one of six nominees representing trainer Nick Zito.
Among the other accomplished 3-year-olds nominated to the Toyota Blue Grass are WinStar Farm LLC’s Colonel John, winner of the Sham Stakes (gr. III); Mount Joy Stables Inc.’s Smooth Air, winner of the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II); Zayat Stables LLC’s Eaton’s Gift, winner of the Swale Stakes (gr. II) and Z Fortune, winner of the LeComte Stakes (gr. III); George Schwary’s Georgie Boy, winner of the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II); West Point Thoroughbreds LLC’s El Gato Malo, winner of the San Rafael Stakes (gr. III); and William and Suzanne Warren’s Denis of Cork, winner of the Southwest Stakes (gr. III).
Todd Pletcher led all trainers with 25 nominees, including Tropical Park Derby (gr. III) winner Cowboy Cal.
TVG will provide live coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass beginning at 4:30 p.m. EST on April 12. The race also will be shown on regional sports networks across the United States and internationally in the United Kingdom and Middle East. ESPN will feature tape-delayed coverage on its “NTRA Racing to the Kentucky Derby” show from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.