(Edited press release)
James Tafel’s Street Sense, winner of the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and champion 2-year-old colt, and Elizabeth Valando’s Nobiz Like Shobiz, who captured the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) in his season debut, lead a list of 179 3-year-olds nominated to Keeneland’s $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
The 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass, run April 14, will this year become the first grade I classic prep contested over Polytrack. Nominations are up significantly over last year’s total of 137 and feature top contenders on this year’s Triple Crown trail.
“We are extremely pleased with the number and quality of nominations,” said Rogers Beasley, Keeneland’s director of racing. “Horsemen are responding very positively to our Polytrack surface, especially given the success of Keeneland-based horses during last fall’s Breeders’ Cup.”
Street Sense, a son of Street Cry trained by Carl Nafzger, vaulted from a third-place finish in Keeneland’s Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) to take the Juvenile at Churchill Downs and champion juvenile colt honors. Also nominated is Nobiz Like Shobiz, a colt by Albert the Greatwhose three starts last year included an impressive 6 1/2-length win in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) and a second in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I). The Barclay Tagg trainee won the Holy Bull (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park in his first start as a 3-year-old.
Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher is represented by 22 Blue Grass nominees, among them being Any Given Saturday, winner of the Sam F. Davis Stakes; Ravel, winner of the Sham Stakes (gr. III); Scat Daddy, winner of the Champagne and third in the Holy Bull; and Circular Quay, winner of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) and Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III). Pletcher won the Blue Grass in 2005 with Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Bandini.
Among the others nominated to the Blue Grass are: Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Ahmed Zayat’s Belgravia, winner of the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III); Bill Currin and Alvin Eisman’s Stormello, winner of the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) and Norfolk Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II); Fox Hill Farms’ Hard Spun, winner of the LeComte Stakes (gr. III); and J. Paul Reddam’s trio of San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) and Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) winner Notional, Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) winner Great Hunter, and Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) and Sham runner-up Liquidity.
ESPN will carry live coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass April 14 from 5-6 p.m. ET. The full list of Blue Grass nominees is available at http://www.keeneland.com/liveracing/hospitality_nomination.asp.