LEXINGTON, Ky. (KEENELAND) – Gatsas Stable and R.A. Hill Stable’s Vekoma has been installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of 14 entered Wednesday for Saturday’s 95th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2).
The 1 1/8-mile main track test serves as a major steppingstone for the $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) to be run May 4 at Churchill Downs.
The Toyota Blue Grass offers 170 points toward qualification for this year’s Derby with 100 points going to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third place and 10 points to fourth. The Derby is limited to the top 20 point earners that pass the entry box and currently the cut line is 28 points, a figure none of Saturday’s entrants has attained.
The Toyota Blue Grass will go as the 10th race on Saturday’s 11-race program with a 6:23 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.
NBC Sports Network will have a live national broadcast of the Toyota Blue Grass, along with the Wood Memorial (G2) from Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby (G1), from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Trained by George Weaver, Vekoma has won two of three starts and finished third in the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth (G2) in his 2019 debut. Javier Castellano has the mount for the Toyota Blue Grass and will break from post position two.
Second choice on the morning line at 7-2 is Live Oak Plantation’s Win Win Win, who picked up his 10 Derby points with a third-place finish in the March 9 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
Trained by Mike Trombetta, Win Win Win opened 2019 with a track-record performance in winning the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Irad Ortiz Jr. will have the mount Saturday and break from post position eight.
Tommie Lewis, Steve Crabtree, Dean Demaree, David Bernsen, Jim Chambers and Magdalena Racing’s Signalman is the third choice on linemaker Mike Battaglia’s morning line at 5-1.
Trained by two-time Toyota Blue Grass winner Kenny McPeek, Signalman closed a consistent 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in which he picked up 10 of his 18 Derby qualifying points. He also picked up points with a runner-up finish in Keeneland’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and a third-place finish in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Seventh in the Fountain of Youth in his 2019 debut, Signalman will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. and break from post position three.
Five additional trainers will be attempting to add to their victory totals in the race.
Three-time winner Todd Pletcher will send out Robert LaPenta’s So Alive. Third in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay in his most recent start, So Alive is 15-1 on the morning line and will be ridden by Luis Saez out of post position 11.
Saez captured the 2016 Toyota Blue Grass on Brody’s Cause for trainer Dale Romans.
Romans, who also won the race in 2012 with Dullahan, will have two starters in the gate: Albaugh Family Stables’ Admire (15-1) and Calumet Farm’s Moonster (30-1). Robby Albarado rides Admire from post seven; John McKee rides Moonster out of post position 13.
Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, who won this race with War in 1987 and High Yield in 2000, will send out graded stakes-placed Market King for Robert Baker and William Mack. Listed at 20-1 on the morning line, Market King will be ridden by Jon Court and break from post position four.
Doug O’Neill, who saddled Irap to his maiden-breaking victory in the 2017 Toyota Blue Grass for Reddam Racing, has another maiden in this year’s gate in Reddam Racing’s Parsimony. Eighth in a division of the Rebel (G2) in his most recent start, Parsimony (20-1) will break from post position 12 and be ridden by Mario Gutierrez.
Mike Maker, who sent out Stately Victor to post the biggest upset in race history with an $82.20 payoff in 2010, will send out Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) winner Somelikeithotbrown for the partnership of Skychai Racing and Sand Dollar Stable.
Somelikeithotbrown (10-1), who with 20 points is the top Derby point earner in the field, will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione and break from post position one.
In addition to Saez, Julien Leparoux will try to add to his Toyota Blue Grass victory total.
Leparoux, who won in 2013 on Java’s War and 2017 with Irap, has the call on Sir Winston (15-1), who will break from post nine. Sir Winston is trained by Mark Casse, who also will send outDream Maker (12-1) with Florent Geroux aboard from post six.
The field for the Toyota Blue Grass, with riders and morning-line odds, from the rail out is: Somelikeithotbrown (Gaffalione, 10-1), Vekoma (Castellano, 9-5), Signalman (Hernandez Jr., 5-1), Market King (Court, 20-1), Chess Chief (Paco Lopez, 30-1), Dream Maker (Geroux, 12-1), Admire (Albarado, 15-1), Win Win Win (Ortiz Jr., 7-2), Sir Winston (Leparoux, 15-1), Lucky Lee(Chris Landeros, 20-1), So Alive (Saez, 15-1), Parsimony (Gutierrez, 20-1), Moonster (McKee, 30-1) and Aquadini (Corey Lanerie, 30-1). All starters will carry 123 pounds.
KEENELAND CARDS 11 RACES SATURDAY
On Saturday, Keeneland will run 11 races with a 1:05 p.m. first post. Approximate post times for the day’s stakes are Commonwealth (G3) at 4 p.m., Shakertown (G2) at 4:35 p.m., Madison (G1) at 5:10 p.m., Central Bank Ashland (G1) at 5:45 p.m. and Toyota Blue Grass (G2) at 6:23 p.m.
Keeneland’s 2019 Spring Meet opens Thursday, April 4, with a 3 p.m. first post.
The Spring Meet concludes Friday, April 26, with racing on Wednesdays through Sundays. First post for the remainder of the 16-day season is 1:05 p.m. Keeneland is closed Easter Sunday, April 21.
APRIL 6 WAGERING OPPORTUNITIES
All-Stakes Pick 4 Presented by TVG. A $400,000-guaranteed Pick 4 features races 7-10: Shakertown (G2), Madison (G1), Central Bank Ashland (G1) and Toyota Blue Grass (G2).
All-Stakes Pick 5 Presented by TVG. A $300,000-guaranteed Pick 5 features races 6-10: Commonwealth, Shakertown, Madison, Central Bank Ashland and Toyota Blue Grass.
NYRA Cross Country Wager. Features the Madison, Central Bank Ashland and Toyota Blue Grass from Keeneland and the Wood Memorial (G2) and another stakes from Aqueduct.
For more than 80 years, the Keeneland Association has devoted itself to the health and vibrancy of the Thoroughbred industry. The world’s largest Thoroughbred auction house, Keeneland conducts four sales a year, in January, April, September and November, and its sales graduates dominate racing globally at every level. In April and October, Keeneland offers some of the highest caliber and richest Thoroughbred racing in the world. Keeneland hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2015 and will hold the event again in 2020. Uniquely structured, Keeneland is a private, for-profit corporation that returns its earnings to the industry and the community in the form of higher purses and millions of dollars donated in support of horse industry initiatives and charitable contributions for education, research and health and human services throughout Central Kentucky. To learn more, visit Keeneland.com.