Carpe Diem finds himself in familiar territory.
The 3-year-old son of Giant's Causeway has already proven his affinity for Keeneland, and should take his next step on the road to the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) while stretching out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time April 4 in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at the Lexington oval.
The Horse Racing Radio Network's live broadcast from Keeneland will include the Blue Grass, Ashland, and Madison Stakes, as well as coverage of the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial from Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby from Santa Anita Park. Coverage will air from 4-7 p.m. EDT on Sirius 93 and XM 208 as well as locally in the Lexington market on HANK 96.1 FM, with live streaming of all HRRN broadcasts provided on the networks website, www.horseracingradio.net. Streaming can also be accessed on mobile phones and tablets by clicking the "Listen Live" button on the HRRN home page.
Carpe Diem won the 1 1/16-mile Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) by 6 1/4 lengths during the fall meet last year in his graded debut after breaking his maiden at first asking at Saratoga Race Course in early September. After running second in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), he made his season debut March 7 with a five-length victory in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) at Tampa Bay Downs.
The chestnut colt, who races for WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stables, has been training well at Todd Pletcher's Florida base of Palm Beach Downs, last turning in a four-furlong breeze March 28 in :47.98 to prepare for the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass, which will be his fifth start. The Blue Grass is worth 100 points to the winner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
"When we won (the Breeders' Futurity) last year, Todd even mentioned to me, 'You know, the Blue Grass would be a good spot next year for this horse,'" said John Moynihan, Stonestreet's bloodstock adviser. "After the Breeders' Cup we gave him some time, he came back at Tampa Bay and ran a super race, and since that time he's been doing phenomenal."
Bred in Kentucky by Coffee Pot Stable out of the Unbridled's Song mare Rebridled Dreams, Carpe Diem was a $1.6 million purchase by WinStar and Stonestreet from the Northwest Stud consignment to the 2014 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. selected sale of 2-year-olds in training.
"When we bought this horse we always thought he would be better going longer distances, and the race he ran in the Futurity here was phenomenal around two turns in his first try," Moynihan said. "Then coming off the long layoff at Tampa against seasoned horses, he ran really, really well and galloped out tremendous. All systems are go; Todd says he's training phenomenal."
The only other stakes winner in the group is DP Racing's Ocho Ocho Ocho, a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense . The Jim Cassidy trainee won three straight as a 2-year-old, capped by a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (gr. III), but fizzled in the March 7 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park when he never fired and finished eighth after being steadied early.
Ocho Ocho Ocho, 6-1 on the morning line, gets the services of Santiago Gonzalez from the rail.
Cheyenne Stables' Classy Class looks to step up after running third in the Feb. 7 Withers Stakes (gr. III) and also winding up third in the March 7 Gotham Stakes (gr. III). The Discreetly Mine colt has just one win, a maiden victory first out going 6 1/2 furlongs at Belmont Park last October. He was fourth in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) and then ran his duo of thirds in the New York prep races this season. Junior Alvarado gets the mount from Post 7 aboard the 6-1 shot.
One runner of interest heading up from Florida is Mossarosa's Frammento, the Midshipman colt trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito who finished a good closing third in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (gr. II) on March 21 at Gulfstream Park. Although he too has only a maiden win to his credit, that victory was notched Oct. 4 at Keeneland when going 1 1/16 miles, and the colt seems likely to improve with added ground. Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will ride at odds of 8-1 from the six hole.
Danzig Moon (Post 8, 8-1), fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby last out, joins Gorgeous Bird (Post 2, 8-1) fifth in the Fountain of Youth, along with John Battaglia Memorial Stakes runner-up Pepper Roani (Post 3, 12-1) as others with stakes experience in the field. Recent allowance winner Unrivaled (Post 4, 12-1) who took a 1 1/16-mile Parx Racing allowance event by five lengths with a closing move, completes the lineup.
Keeneland, Saturday, April 04, 2015, Race 10
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Ocho Ocho Ocho (KY) Santiago Gonzalez 123 James M. Cassidy - 2 2Gorgeous Bird (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 123 Ian R. Wilkes - 3 3Pepper Roani (KY) Miguel Mena 123 Michael J. Maker - 4 4Unrivaled (KY) Robby Albarado 123 Marya K. Montoya - 5 5Carpe Diem (KY) John R. Velazquez 123 Todd A. Pletcher - 6 6Frammento (KY) Gary L. Stevens 123 Nicholas P. Zito - 7 7Classy Class (KY) Junior Alvarado 123 Kiaran P. McLaughlin - 8 8Danzig Moon (ON) Julien R. Leparoux 123 Mark E. Casse -
Keeneland, Saturday, April 04, 2015, Race 10