A field of 11 horses will go postward today in the 85th running of the Toyota Blue Grass (G1). Biographical information on the connections of each entrant in the $750,000 race, as well as past performances, charts dating back to the first running of the race at Keeneland in 1937 and historical statistics on the race are available in the Toyota Blue Grass Media Guide.
Additional material, including videos of past races, is available at http://www.toyotabluegrassstakes.com.
Morning-line favorite Hold Me Back drew the 10 post for the race. The 10 post has yielded two winners: Sherluck (1961) and Mr. Trouble (1950). However, since 1961, the 10 post has only had 10 starters. Last year’s winner, Monba, broke from the 5 post.
Here are the post positions and the number of winners each post position produced since 1937 (the race was run in two divisions in 1951):
Post No. of Winners
Jockeys Garrett Gomez (Massone) and John Velazquez (Join in the Dance) are looking for their second wins in the race. Gomez won in 2006 with Sinister Minister. Velazquez won in 2005 with Bandini.
Jockeys who are making their debuts in this year’s race are Jesus Castanon (Cliffy’s Future) and Alan Garcia (Charitable Man).
The Toyota Blue Grass will mark the first Keeneland race for jockey Richard Hills (Mafaaz [GB]).
One jockey who is a member of the Racing Hall of Fame has a horse in this year’s race: Kent Desormeaux (Hold Me Back).
The winningest trainer in this year’s race is Todd Pletcher, who has two wins (Bandini, 2005; Monba, 2008). With one won apiece are Ken McPeek (Harlan’s Holiday, 2002), Darrin Miller (Dominican, 2007) and Bill Mott (Taylor’s Special, 1984).
Two trainers who are members of the Racing Hall of Fame have a horse in this year’s race: Ron McAnally (Massone) and Bill Mott (Hold Me Back). McAnally never has started a horse in the race; Mott has not saddled a starter since he won the race in 1984 with Taylor’s Special.
Sky Mesa is the sire of three starters in this year’s race: General Quarters, Join in the Dance and Terrain. Sky Mesa, who stands at Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Kentucky, is the son of 1997 Toyota Blue Grass winner Pulpit.
Menifee, the sire of Massone, won the race in 1999.
The Cliff’s Edge, the sire of Cliffy’s Future, won the race in 2004.
Five horses in this year’s race were sold at the 2007 Keeneland September Yearling Sale: Charitable Man ($200,000), General Quarters ($20,000), Hold Me Back ($400,000), Loch Dubh ($42,000) and Patena ($250,000). Other starters Join in the Dance and Theregoesjojo were consigned to the sale.
The shortest-priced favorite to win the race was Spectacular Bid, who went off at .05-1 (1-20). He paid $2.10.
The longest shot to win the race was Dust Commander, who went off at 35.40-1 in 1970. He paid $72.80 to win.
The largest margin of victory was turned in by Arts and Letters, who won the 1969 race by 15 lengths. He was followed by Alydar (13-length winner in 1978) and Sinister Minister (12 ¾-length winner in 2006).
This is the third year that the Toyota Blue Grass has been run on Keeneland’s Polytrack main track. (Polytrack debuted during the 2006 fall meeting.) The Polytrack record for 1 1/8 miles, the distance of the Toyota Blue Grass, is 1:46.77, set by Carriage Trail in the 2008 Juddmonte Spinster (G1). The stakes record is 1:47 1/5, set by Skip Away in 1996.
All-sources wagering on last year’s 10-race Toyota Blue Grass card reached $18,738,582, the second-highest all-sources handle in Keeneland history. On-track handle last year was $3,094,803, and on-track attendance for the day was 26,000.
GANGBUSTER’S FORT HARROD VICTORY “PLEASANT SURPRISE” TO TRAINER DESORMEAUX
Owner Brad Allshouse and trainer Keith Desormeaux were all smiles Saturday morning on the heels of Gangbuster’s 10 ¾-length romp in Friday’s Fort Harrod Stakes.
“Ten and three-quarters,” Desormeaux mused. “The announcer missed it by three lengths.”
Ridden by Keith’s brother, Kent, Gangbuster scored the victory in the 1 5/8-mile race, which came as a surprise to the trainer.
“About five weeks ago, we gave him three weeks off at the farm and when I say off, I mean off. No galloping, just had him in the paddock,” Desormeaux said. “So to run back first out in a mile and five-eighths race, I was a little skeptical about his fitness. It was a pleasant surprise.”
The Fort Harrod was only the third start for Gangbuster on Polytrack.
“He won on the Polytrack at Arlington in his first start,” Desormeaux said. “I think he might be a slightly better Polytrack horse.”
And, he might be a marathon horse. The Fort Harrod was created as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, which this year will be run at 1 3/4 miles over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita.
“I may have to check out the conditions books around the country,” Desormeaux said. “There are not many races at the distance he ran yesterday.”
As for looking ahead to the Breeders Cup …
“Look, he ran for $30,000 in his last start,” Desormeaux said. “It is hard to think he could even be considered for something like the Breeders’ Cup. But if it turns out he is that kind of horse, he’ll be the first one out there.”
HELLO BROADWAY ADVANCES WITH FRIDAY ALLOWANCE VICTORY
On Friday, Elizabeth J. Valando’s homebred Hello Broadway returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since he scored his maiden victory in his career debut last August. The latest victory for the 3-year-old Broken Vow colt came when he won the third race yesterday, a 1 1/16-mile allowance event. Garrett Gomez rode Hello Broadway to a 1 ¼-length victory over David’s Rock in 1:43.84.
Trainer Barclay Tagg had considered running Hello Broadway in the Toyota Blue Grass (G1), but wanted to put his colt, who has seconds in the Hutcheson (G2) and Nashua (G3), in a position to regain some confidence with a victory against lighter competition.
“I didn’t want to throw him to the wolves,” Tagg said. “He’s had enough tough races. He broke his maiden first time out and has had nothing but tough races since.”
Asked what might be next for Hello Broadway, Tagg said, “I’m not sure, maybe the Preakness (G1). I’ll take a good look at the Preakness and maybe some races in New York. I haven’t had a chance to look anything up yet. We’ll make some A, B and C plans.”
Hello Broadway is a half-brother to Nobiz Like Shobiz, a Grade 1 winner by Albert the Great. Earlier in the week, Tagg compared the two colts.
“They’re both big; they’re both very good-looking,” he said. “I think this (Hello Broadway) is as good a horse as ‘Nobiz’; I hope he is. I think this is a very nice horse. I don’t know what happens to him in his races, but he trains well and I don’t think he’s a morning glory. I think he’s a very special horse. I just don’t think he’s as mature right at this stage in his 3-year-old year as Nobiz was.”
MORE THAN A FEW REAP REWARDS OF MR. SIDNEY’S MAKER’S MARK MILE WIN
On Saturday morning, owner Lee Einsidler brought breakfast for the crew in trainer Bill Mott’s barn. The treat was in recognition for the win the day before by the well-bred Mr. Sidney, who earned his first stakes victory in the $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1).
“We are really happy with the win,” said Mott’s assistant Leana Willaford on Saturday.
At the 2005 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Einsidler paid $3.9 million for Mr. Sidney, a son of Storm Cat and the Grade 1-winning A.P. Indy mare Tomisue’s Delight, a full sister to Horse of the Year Mineshaft. The Maker’s Mark was the eighth start for Mr. Sidney, whose racing career had been interrupted by injury after his first race.
In the Maker’s Mark, jockey Kent Desormeaux and Mr. Sidney held off Passager (FR) to win the race by a half-length. The victory was one of four victories on the day for Desormeaux, who also rode Gangbuster to win the Fort Harrod Stakes.
Desormeaux, who rode four winners on April 4, is the spring meeting’s second-leading rider with nine wins through April 10. Julien Leparoux is the current leader, with 13 wins. Each jockey already has won two stakes during the season. On opening day, Leparoux and Mott teamed up to win the Central Bank Transylvania (G3) with Stormalory.
Phipps Stable’s Dancing Forever, idle since running third in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) last October at Santa Anita, worked a half-mile on the main track in :49 on Saturday morning for trainer Shug McGaughey. “I am not in any hurry with him,” McGaughey said. “He won’t run at Churchill (Downs), but I’d like to get a race in him before the (Woodford Reserve) Manhattan (G1 on June 6 at Belmont Park).”
McGaughey plans to work the Phipps Stable’s Conservative on Monday morning in advance of next Saturday’s Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G2).
Donamire Farm’s Parade Clown, winner of the WEBN Stakes at Turfway Park this winter and most recently fourth in the Grade 2 Lane’s End, worked a half-mile in :47.60 for trainer Katherine Ball in preparation for the Coolmore Lexington. It was Parade Clown’s second half-mile work since the Lane’s End.
“I thought he worked real nice,” Ball said. “If he comes out of the work fine, he’ll go in the Lexington and Julien Leparoux will ride.”
Nicanor, full brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, worked a half-mile in :48.20. Trained by Michael Matz for owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson, Nicanor has run second in his past two starts at Gulfstream Park after making his racing debut with a 10-place finish on Jan. 31.
Matz indicated earlier in the week that Nicanor could run here before the close of the Sprint Meet on April 24.