Blue Grass Stakes
The Blue Grass Stakes is a premier Grade 1 race for three-year-olds held every spring at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky. With a rich history dating back to the maiden running in 1911, the Blue Grass has yielded some major players in the Triple Crown and beyond. Run at a mile and an eighth, the race offers sophomores a final prep for the Kentucky Derby and with the points system, a win in the Blue Grass secures a spot in the Derby starting gate.
There are some major changes coming for the 2015 installment of the Blue Grass Stakes. In 2006, Keeneland followed an industry-wide trend and switched their dirt track over to Polytrack, a synthetic racing surface. In the Fall of 2014, the historic track made the change back to conventional dirt and moved the Blue Grass to four weeks before the Kentucky Derby. With an inflated purse of $1 million and ideal timing as a final prep for the Run for the Roses, the race promises to be a key prep in 2015.
Like many major stakes races of the era, Bill Shoemaker was the dominant jockey for several decades. He won his first Blue Grass Stakes in 1959 with Tomy Lee and followed it up the following year with Tompion. He won the 1965 edition with Lucky Debonair and the 1966 running with Abe’s Hope. In 1969, he guided Arts and Letters to a win and returned to the winner’s circle thirteen years later with Linkage in 1982.
Though many great horses have graced the starting gate of the Blue Grass Stakes, none completed the mile and an eighth faster than Skip Away in 1996. Trained by Sonny Hine for his wife Carolyn, the popular gray colt smashed the stakes record in a stunning performance, stopping the clock at 1:47.20, a record which still stands. Skip Away, though not successful in the Triple Crown, would go on to be named Champion Three-Year-Old that year.
Though the Blue Grass Stakes has not had a winner go on to victory in the Kentucky Derby since Strike the Gold in 1991, sixteen horses in the history of the race have used the Blue Grass as a stepping stone, either in victory or defeat, to a win in the Run for the Roses. The most recent horse to do so was the reigning juvenile champion Street Sense in 2007. After a runner-up finish in the Blue Grass, he bounced back to win the Kentucky Derby.
Blue Grass Stakes Betting Odds
Carpe Diem showed why he was an even-money favorite to win the Blue Grass Stakes, but runner up Danzig Moon earned his spot in the Kentucky Derby by taking the place at odds of better than 15-1. Use prep races like the Blue Grass Stakes to find those diamond-in-the-rough contenders for wagers at Bovada or our other recommended online racebooks.
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2017 Blue Grass Stakes Contenders
It took a lot of determination, but jockey Luis Saez wouldn’t let Brody’s Cause stop working and it paid off in a win in the 2016 Blue Grass. Breaking from the #6 post, the Dale Romans trainee found himself near the back in the 14-horse field down the backstretch, was swung out into the six-path mid-turn and then just kept coming, reigning in the early leaders at the top of the stetch to eventully grind out a 1 1/4 length win at odds of 4-1. The rest of the riactor also came from off the pace, with My Man Sam going last-to-first to get up for second by a nose over Cherry Wine, who made a strong rally in the lane, but just failed to hold second. Up on the pace early, posttime favorite Zulu faded at the quarter-pole and finished a dissapointing twelfth. With the qin, Brody’s Cause picked up 100 points to jump to fifth in the Kentucky Deby points standings, and earned a spot in the Derby starting gate.
2016 Order of Finish: Win Place Show
1st: Brody’s Cause 10.40 5.00 3.40
2nd: My Man Sam 5.80 4.00
3rd: Cherry Wine 3.60
(Also Ran: Loaban, Star Hill, Goats Town, Looking For A Kiss, Donegal Moon, Crescent Drive, Cards Of Stone, Zapperini, Zulu, American Dubai, Twizz)
Check back closer to race day for the 2017 Blue Grass contenders!