Irap, who broke his maiden with a three-quarter-length win in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) April 8, put in his first move since that shocker, working a mile in 1:44 at Keeneland Friday morning.
Back at his home track, Churchill Downs, McCraken showed composure before and during his half-mile drill April 18 in :47 4/5.
ABR Films spent an action-packed day of racing on Blue Grass Stakes day at Keeneland with trainer Kenny McPeek and went behind the scenes to learn about his training strategies and witness the excitement of horse racing at its highest level.
The relative quiet surroundings of Keeneland's Barn 43 provided the perfect setting for the connections of Irap the morning of April 9 as they went about digesting what the son of Tiznow pulled off the evening before.
Trainer Ian Wilkes had his humor intact and his perspective on point Sunday morning less than 24 hours after McCraken finished third in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) April 8, the colt's first loss in five career starts.
Consider this your weekly guide to the best stakes in North America. This week we have massive stakes cards at Aqueduct Racetrack, Keeneland, and Santa Anita Park built around three top Triple Crown preps.
- By Dave Litfin
- Thoroughbred Racing, Handicapping, Southeast Region, Southwest Region, West Region, Kentucky
Horse players will need three sets of eyes to keep track of this week's action, as Aqueduct Racetrack, Keeneland, and Santa Anita Park all run 170-point qualifiers to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1).
As his connections watched their $1.2 million purchase finish last in the field of 10 in his Saratoga Race Course debut, they were hit with the sinking feeling that the potential they thought they saw the summer before had led them awry.
Unbeaten McCraken soared through his final move in preparation for the April 8 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2), covering a half-mile in :49 2/5 at Keeneland.
The high energy level Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Tapwrit has flaunted in recent weeks was on display March 31, when he tuned up for the April 8 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) with a half-mile move at Palm Beach Downs.
Following a strong five-furlong work March 28 at Winding Oaks Farm near Ocala, Fla., the connections of Classic Empire set the Arksansas Derby (G1) as the next target for last year's champion juvenile male.
Peacock Racing Stables' multiple graded stakes winner Gunnevera put in his final breeze March 25 for the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) April 1 at Gulfstream Park, leading a coast-to-coast slate of sophomore works.
John Oxley's reigning juvenile champion Classic Empire did not break off in a scheduled workout March 19 at Palm Meadows Training Center, according to trainer Mark Casse.
Trainer Ian Wilkes breathed a sigh of relief March 11 when he sent unbeaten McCraken out for an easy half-mile move at Palm Meadows Training Center, the first work for the colt since a mild ankle strain was discovered in his left front Feb. 28.
Janis Whitham's unbeaten homebred McCraken has resumed galloping at Palm Meadows Training Center the past few days and remains on track to start in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland April 8.
John Oxley's reigning juvenile male champion Classic Empire is still targeting the April 8 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland trainer Mark Casse confirmed, despite having a workout aborted March 3.
Add the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) April 1 at Gulfstream Park to the list of Triple Crown preps being considered for M M G Stables' impressive 3-year-old El Areeb, a winner of his last four races including back-to-back graded stakes.
Keeneland announced Jan. 19 a $4.325 million stakes schedule for its 2017 Spring Meet that offers 16 stakes, featuring the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1).
- By Steve Haskin
There have been many, myself included, who were shocked by the Graded Stakes committee's decision to downgrade two of the most historic Kentucky Derby preps, the Wood Memorial and Blue Grass Stakes, from grade I to grade II.
A start in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland is the first choice for Classic Empire's final Derby prep, but the race's downgraded status has prompted his connections to put other options back into the discussion.
In a dramatic reshaping of graded status of 2017 Triple Crown prep races, the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association has downgraded the Toyota Blue Grass and the Wood Memorial from grade I to grade II.
The Blood-Horse has always played the Blue Grass Stakes close to the vest
Dan Tordjman and friends bet a Pick Four that included the Wood Memorial (gr. I) and Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). Learn how to organize your notes, when you should pick favorites, and how to put together a ticket with a group. Watch Video
Brody's Cause found himself back at home at Keeneland April 9, and the son of Giant's Causeway proved his affinity for the Lexington oval with a strong score in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
In addition, it will also air the Equine Forum, its weekly talk show, on Saturday and provide live coverage of the Commonwealth, Shakertown, and Madison from Keeneland in its three-hour broadcast.
With a hefty purse and 170 Kentucky Derby Leaderboard points on the line, the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 9 drew a lineup of youngsters whose connections hope a stop at Keeneland paves the way to Churchill.
Claire Novak, Ellis Starr, and Tom LaMarra come to you from Keeneland to preview the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) featuring My Man Sam, Zulu, Star Hill, Cherry Wine, Brody's Cause, and Laoban. Watch Video
Claire Novak, Ellis Starr, and Tom LaMarra come to you from Keeneland to preview the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) featuring My Man Sam, Zulu, Star Hill, Cherry Wine, Brody's Cause, and Laoban. Download Equibase Past Performances for the Blue Grass.
American Dubai put in his final major work April 2 in preparation for the April 9 running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) by working five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 after the renovation break at Keeneland.
Grade I winner Brody's Cause is scheduled to make his 3-year-old season debut Saturday, March 12 in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II).
For the second consecutive year, Keeneland's premier 3-year-old races, the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) and Central Bank Ashland (gr. I), lead five stakes run on opening Saturday of the spring meet.
On the 25th anniversary of their plucky colt’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I) win, Dogwood Stable’s Cot Campbell recalls the thrilling highs and gut-wrenching lows of campaigning a top 3-year-old along the 1990 Triple Crown trail.
Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) winner Carpe Diem turned in the second of two maintenance works since that win when he cruised four furlongs in :48 3/5 under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez April 25 at Keeneland.
Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Danzig Moon put in his final work for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) the morning of April 24, breezing four furlongs in :48 4/5.
Todd Pletcher started his morning well before daylight April 18, breezing his three Kentucky Derby (gr. I) hopefuls in Florida before catching a private plane to Lexington to supervise the work of Carpe Diem.
Mossarosa's Frammento, fourth in the April 4 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) last time out, worked an easy half-mile on his own after the renovation break April 16 at Keeneland.
Keeneland, Santa Anita Park, Aqueduct, Turf Paradise, Carpe Diem and More. View Slideshow
J. Keeler Johnson recaps the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, and Blue Grass Stakes. read blog
Relive Carpe Diem's victory in the 2015 Toyota Blue Grass S. (gr. I). See where your favorite horse was at several crucial points of the race with our interactive slideshow. View Interactive
Carpe Diem won for fun in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) April 4 at Keeneland, living up to his 2-5 favoritism and the hype that surrounded him leading into the race.
Keeneland Vice President of Racing Rogers Beasley talks about the decision to cancel the last four races on opening day, and the track condition for Blue Grass Saturday. Watch Video
Keeneland Vice President of Racing Rogers Beasley talks about the decision to cancel the last four races on opening day, and the track condition for Blue Grass Saturday.
- By Claire Novak
The transcript for the chat is now available. Read Transcript
Trainer Nick Zito assesses Frammento's chances in Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). Watch Video
Trainer Nick Zito assesses Frammento's chances in Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
J. Keeler Johnson handicaps the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, and Blue Grass Stakes. read blog
Claire Novak and Tom LaMarra are on location at Keeneland, handicapping the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. The Blue Grass Stakes is a Kentucky Derby prep race worth 100 points to the winner. Hear about contender Carpe Diem. watch video
Claire Novak and Tom LaMarra are on location at Keeneland, handicapping the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. The Blue Grass Stakes is a Kentucky Derby prep race worth 100 points to the winner. Hear about contenders Carpe Diem, Frammento, and Classy Class. Download Equibase Past Performances for the Blue Grass Stakes.
Trainer Marya Montoya talks about Unrivaled's chances in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) and as a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prospect. Watch Video
- By Frank Angst
The three major Triple Crown prep races Saturday, April 4, will feature enhanced security protocols, which on one level is good news, but also serves as reminder of how much more is needed. read blog
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