A field of 13 horses will go postward today in the 88th running of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G1). The Toyota Blue Grass is the richest and most famous race at Keeneland, which first ran the race 75 years ago – on April 29, 1937 – on closing day of its inaugural spring meeting.
Today’s program is the first 12-race card in Keeneland history. There have been two 11-race programs here: Toyota Blue Grass Day on April 10, 2010, and FallStars Day on October 9, 2010. The first 10-race program at Keeneland was offered on April 15, 2000, which also was Toyota Blue Grass Day.
The Blue Grass was named for the famous Bluegrass region of Central Kentucky and held in 1911-14 and 1919-26 at the old Kentucky Association track near downtown Lexington. Second-place finishers Meridian (1911), Donerail (1913) and Behave Yourself (1921) went on to win the Kentucky Derby. The 1926 winner, Bubbling Over, became the first horse to win the Blue Grass and the Kentucky Derby.
With the closure of the Kentucky Association track, a group of prominent area Thoroughbred breeders went to work to return racing to Lexington. In 1935, they founded the Keeneland Association, purchased land from horseman J.O. “Jack” Keene and set out to open a model racetrack. Keeneland opened on October 15, 1936, for nine days of racing. In April 1937, Keeneland held its inaugural spring meeting of 11 days and ran the Blue Grass for the first time.
The winner of the first Blue Grass at Keeneland was Maxwell Howard’s Fencing, who won by three-quarters of a length over Col. E.R. Bradley’s favored pair of Billionaire and Brooklyn. Nine days later at Churchill Downs, Fencing and Billionaire raced back in the Kentucky Derby, inaugurating a pattern that future Derby hopefuls would follow.
Blue Grass - Kentucky Derby Connection
A total of nine winners of the Blue Grass at Keeneland have won the Kentucky Derby. Another 10 horses who ran in the race have won the Run for the Roses.
In 1996, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (located in Georgetown), five area Toyota dealerships and Toyota Motor Sales in Cincinnati teamed up to sponsor the Blue Grass, marking Toyota’s first sponsorship of a horse race.
Biographical information on the connections of each entrant in this year’s 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.
This information also might aid in your coverage:
Morning-line favorite Hansen drew Post 4 for the race. Post 4 has produced 13 winners.
Here are the post positions and the number of winners each post position has produced since 1937 (the race was run in two divisions in 1951):
Post No. of Winners
The largest field in race history is 14 (1954, 1974).
Horses, Sires and Pedigrees:
A total of 12 2-year-old champions have run in the Toyota Blue Grass. Hansen is the first 2-year-old champion to compete in the race since Street Sense in 2007. Street Sense finished second by a nose in the race to Dominican, then won the Kentucky Derby (G1) in his next start.
A half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Mine That Bird, Dullahan could join Round Table as the two horses to win the Breeders’ Futurity in the fall of their 2-year-old seasons and return to win the Blue Grass as 3-year-olds. Round Table accomplished the double in 1956-57
Giant’s Causeway is represented by two starters this year: Heavy Breathing and Russian Greek. The 15-year-old son of Storm Cat stands at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Kentucky.
Kitten’s Joy also has two runners this year: Gung Ho and Politicallycorrect. Kitten’s Joy, an 11-year-old son of by El Prado (IRE), stands at Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Ramsey Farm near Nicholasville, Ky. The Ramseys bred and race Gung Ho and Politicallycorrect.
Ever So Lucky’s broodmare sire, Summer Squall, won the 1990 Blue Grass.
Holy Candy’s second dam, Lunar Spook, won Keeneland’s Ashland (G1) (now the Central Bank Ashland) in 1993.