Edited Keeneland Release — Keeneland’s 99th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G1) on April 8, the first Saturday of the Spring Meet, has attracted 141 nominees led by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s champion Forte; recent Risen Star (G2) Presented by Lamarque Lincoln and Lamarque Crescent City Ford winner Angel of Empire; and every 3-year-old on the list of the 20 leading point earners to the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 6 at Churchill Downs.
“As Keeneland’s signature race, the Toyota Blue Grass is the crown jewel in our Spring Meet stakes program,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing Gatewood Bell said. “It’s exciting to see so many of the nation’s top sophomores and stables represented among the nominees, and we look forward to the outstanding competition on opening weekend. As always, we want to thank our horsemen for their strong support of Keeneland and the Toyota Blue Grass.”
The 1 1/8-mile Toyota Blue Grass is one of five graded stakes worth a combined $2.65 million to be run April 8 on Keeneland’s 11-race card, which has a first post time of 12:30 p.m. ET. Other stakes that day are the 22nd running of the $600,000 Madison (G1) for fillies and mares going 7 furlongs on the dirt; the 35th running of the $400,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association for 3-year-old fillies going 1 mile on the turf; the 27th running of the $350,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up going 5½ furlongs on the turf; and the 36th running of the $300,000 Commonwealth (G3) for 4-year-olds and up going 7 furlongs on the dirt.
The Toyota Blue Grass is the ninth race with a 5:15 p.m. post. NBC will televise the race along with the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) and another Keeneland stakes from 4:30-6 p.m.
The winner of the Toyota Blue Grass will earn 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, while the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers receive 40 points, 30 points, 20 points and 10 points, respectively.
Forte concluded his Eclipse Award-winning 2022 campaign at Keeneland by sweeping the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Trained by three-time Toyota Blue Grass winner Todd Pletcher, the colt by Violence has won four races in five starts, including the Hopeful (G1). Forte is a 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduate.
Brad Cox leads trainers by Toyota Blue Grass nominees with 16, followed by Pletcher with 15.
Albaugh Family Stables’ Angel of Empireis one of six Cox trainees in the Derby top 20 that are nominated to the Toyota Blue Grass. The others are Gary and Mary West’s Hit Show, winner of the Withers (G3); Gold Square’s Instant Coffee, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and the Lecomte (G3); West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stables’ Jace’s Road, winner of the Gun Runner; Robert LaPenta, e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Madaket Stables’ Tapit’s Conquest, fourth in the Risen Star; and Spendthrift Farm and Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Victory Formation, winner of the Smarty Jones (L).
Other prominent Toyota Blue Grass nominees include Mary and Chester Broman Sr.’s two-time graded stakes-placed Arctic Arrogance; Rodeo Creek Racing’s Blazing Sevens, winner of the Champagne (G1); Michael McLoughlin’s Curly Jack, winner of the Iroquois (G3); West Paces Racing and Stonestreet Stables’ Dubyuhnell, winner of the Remsen (G2); Seacoast Thoroughbreds of N. E.’s General Banker, third in the Withers; Centennial Farms’ Litigate, winner of the Sam F. Davis (G3); BG Stables’ Lugan Knight, winner of the Jerome; Pierre Jean Amestoy Jr., Leslie Amestoy and Roger Beasley’s Practical Move, winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2); Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Red Route One, runner-up in the Southwest (G3); Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Rocket Can, winner of the Holy Bull (G3); Peachtree Stable’s Shadow Dragon, runner-up in the Holy Bull; R.T. Racing Stable and Cypress Creek Equine’s Risen Star runner-up Sun Thunder; and Patricia’s Hope and Phillip Sagan’s Two Phil’s, winner of the Street Sense (G3).
The late nomination deadline for the Toyota Blue Grass is Wednesday, March 22.
Post positions for the Toyota Blue Grass and the other April 8 races will be drawn Wednesday, April 5