Robert LaPenta jokingly discusses his Blue Grass Stakes strategy during a preview dinner at Keeneland April 10.
There are two ways of looking at Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I)- either as a rich workout for the first Saturday in May for Pyro, Cool Coal Man, Visionaire, Big Truck, and Halo Najib, who all have sufficient earnings, or as a final, desperate attempt to sneak into the Derby field by utilizing the often dirt form-challenged Polytrack.
Trainer Todd Pletcher was at Keeneland April 6 for the first time during the spring meet to oversee his horses stabled here, including the 3-year-olds Cowboy Cal and Monba. Both colts worked before sunrise, Monba in company with Ready's Image at about 6:15 a.m., and Cowboy Cal some 45 minutes later.
"NTRA Racing to the Kentucky Derby" will air on the ESPN networks beginning March 22 as the racing industry counts down to the 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Jan. 10.
Keeneland has cataloged 2,547 horses for its 2008 January horses of all ages sale to be held Jan. 7-13, the sale company announced Nov. 21.
War, who won the 1987 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) following the disqualification of Alysheba, was euthanized in August at Dr. Pamela Barlow's Wandering Farm near Bowie, Texas, because of complications from arthritis.
James Tafel's champion colt Street Sense turned in his final serious Kentucky Derby workout Tuesday, April 24, going five furlongs in an impressive :59 over a fast track at Churchill Downs.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick - Conventional wisdom suggests front-running horses have a huge advantage if they are allowed to set the tortoise-like fractions established in this year's Blue Grass. But Polytrack has thrown conventional wisdom out the window.
- By Ryan Conley
Fifth Third Bank faces a possible contempt order in California on May 10 over an allegation that it violated a court-ordered agreement by asking Keeneland to withhold any purse money Great Hunter might earn in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). The financial institution made the request to the track due to its claim of an interest in the colt.
Well, this is it, the final major Derby prep weekend. After this, there is only the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) for horses hoping to hop aboard at the last minute. All eyes now turn to Street Sense, who can emerge from the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) as a solid Derby favorite. But he has to get by Great Hunter first.
Great Hunter and Street Sense face each other for the third time in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Which one will come out on top? Or will either?
James Tafel's Street Sense, a major contender for the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on May 5, tuned up for a run in Saturday's $750,000-added Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland with a five-furlong workout on Tuesday at Churchill Downs.
After the defection of Hard Spun, five horses remain as "probable" contenders for Saturday's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I), including Street Sense, Great Hunter, Zanjero, Dominican, and Teuflesberg. Starbase, from the stable of trainer D. Wayne Lukas, is also possible for the field.
The Horse Racing Radio Network will provide exclusive live coverage of Keeneland's feature throughout the spring meet.
Following the defection from the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) of Any Given Saturday, it now looks as if the 1 1/8-mile test at Keeneland also will lose Lane's End (gr. II) winner Hard Spun, who will either go straight to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. II) or point for the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) and Preakness (gr. I).
- By Ryan Conley
The principal parties involved in a legal dispute over star runner Great Hunter have agreed on terms that could prevent controversy over the colt's scheduled start in the April 14 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), an attorney involved in the matter said.
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).
While some top 3-year-olds were preparing for Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro settled into Barn 25 at Keeneland for some quiet relaxation before shipping to Louisville, Ky., for the May 6 Kentucky Derby.
Bruce Lunsford and Lansdon Robbins III's First Samurai, winner via disqualification of the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) in his most recent start, continued his preparation for Keeneland's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) with a strong seven-furlong work Monday at Churchill Downs.
Thanks to what trainer John Ward terms "unfortunate circumstances," John Oxley's Strong Contender has but one pressure-packed race left for a potential trip to the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), and he'll need a top finish in the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland April 15.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick - The road to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) changes from time to time, and so do the roadmaps printed by the racetracks and used by owners and trainers to get their horses to Churchill Downs in optimum condition on the first Saturday in May.
As many as five colts who raced in Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) may return in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), to be run May 7 at Churchill Downs.
Gary and Mary West's High Limit, winner of the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), was installed the 9-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
Tracy Farmer's Sun King and Mary and Gary West's High Limit turned in strong works Monday at Churchill Downs in preparation for Saturday's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Bandini, preparing for his engagement in Saturday's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I), worked five furlongs at Keeneland Monday morning, in the company of stablemate Confederate.
Robert and Beverly Lewis' Consolidator sparkled in a swift five furlong breeze Sunday at Churchill Downs that marked his final major prep for Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
Fox Hill Farm's Rockport Harbor, who is still on target for the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), worked seven furlongs in 1:25 3/5 at Oaklawn Park Sunday, after which, trainer John Servis said the colt would pass the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and point instead to the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) a week later.
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel said that Mary and Gary West's High Limit, winner of the Louisiana Derby (grade II), was doing well on the day after his first work at Churchill Downs and would make his next start in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland on April 16.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas says he'd prefer that San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) winner Consolidator run next in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland April 16.
Fountain of Youth (gr. I) winner and Florida's leading first crop yearling sales sire of 2004, Songandaprayer, has relocated to Hartley/De Renzo, Walmac South from Marablue Farm for the 2005 season.
You can go over Value Plus, Eddington, Master David, Tapit, Lion Heart, Preachinatthebar, The Cliff's Edge, Action This Day, Smarty Jones, Borrego, and Purge all you want and you'll still likely come away confused. So, why not follow the trend this year and start looking at some bombs this weekend.
Juvenile champion Action This Day will make his longest excursion when he ships April 5 to Keeneland for the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on April 10, but Richard Mandella does not anticipate any problems with his 3-year-old.
William Farish's Gradepoint, winner of the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II), suffered a slab fracture of the right knee after a workout at Churchill Downs Monday in preparation for the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) and will not race again this year, trainer Neil Howard said.
Trainer Bob Baffert's gray Triple Crown duo of Preachinatthebar and Wimbledon were both out for workouts over Santa Anita's fast main track on Monday morning.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone tuned up for the April 10 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) Monday morning, breezing an easy six furlongs in 1:15 2/5 at Keeneland, his first work since his fifth-place finish in the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) March 20.
Trainer Patrick Biancone revealed late Friday that he's considering skipping the April 3 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) with grade I winner Lion Heart in favor of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland a week later.
For the first time ever, Keeneland is moving its post position draw for the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) to the paddock and making it open to the public.
Trainer Nick Zito said Buckram Oak Farm's Eurosilver, one of the leading candidates for the Triple Crown events, is being treated for an infection and will miss the April 10 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
On Thursday Midway Road is scheduled to make his first start since June. His trainer Neil Howard is also looking ahead to the next starts for Breakaway, Gradepoint, and Shadow Cast.
Bob Baffert said Tuesday he has decided to keep Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Wimbledon home and point for the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), while San Felipe (gr. II) winner Preachinatthebar will head to Keeneland for the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
Almost all of the leading contenders for the Visa Triple Crown Challenge, including trainer Nick Zito's highly regarded twosome of Birdstone and Eurosilver, are among 157 nominees to Keeneland's $750,000, Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds will be run on Saturday, April 10, three weeks before the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). It will be televised live on NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET).
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Kitten's Joy, who is undefeated in four starts on grass, has been nominated to the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) and Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
When Harlan's Holiday won last year's Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) in a time of 1:51.51, it was the slowest winning time in the 1 1/8-mile race since Granacus (1:52) beat Intensive Command by three lengths in 1988. On Saturday, Peace Rules creeped home slower than Harlan's Holiday, finishing the key Kentucky Derby prep race in 1:51.73 on the fast track.
The Kentucky Derby lost another of its major stars Friday when Badge of Silver suffered a fractured cannon bone in his right front leg. The son of Silver Deputy, who had romped in his first three career starts before tasting defeat in the Louisiana Derby, would have been one of the favorites in Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes.
This weekend's big Derby prep extravaganza looks pretty clear cut on paper, with Empire Maker, Peace Rules, Badge of Silver, Eugene's Third Son, Region of Merit, Man Among Men, and Aristocat expected to dominate the three races. But don't ignore several others, including one D. Wayne Lukas.
It looks a like a big weekend coming up for Todd Pletcher, who will have starters in all three Kentucky Derby preps. Indy Dancer runs in the Wood Memorial, Aristocat goes in the Arkansas Derby, and Lion Tamer is a likely starter in the Blue Grass Stakes.
D. Wayne Lukas has decided Ten Cents A Shine will race in Kentucky this weekend instead of his original plan of running the colt in Arkansas. Crowned Dancer is also slated to run at Keeneland Saturday.
Offlee Wild and Lots of Sizzle, both pointed toward Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, made their final moves over the Central Kentucky oval Tuesday morning.
On Friday Keeneland's 15-day spring meet opens in Lexington. The track has some new and improved ways to watch its races, whether you're on the grounds or at home.
Michael Tabor's Blue Grass Stakes bound Brancusi, a strong third in the March 16 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), had his first work since then on Wednesday morning. He went six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 handily over Santa Anita's fast main track.
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