Field set for Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland

Essential Quality leads Kentucky Derby prep race
Breeders Cup Horse Racing
Posted at 12:44 PM, Mar 30, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The draw was held Tuesday for the running of the 97th Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday.

Essential Quality drew the fourth gate and was installed as the 3-5 morning line favorite. He has won all four career starts including his maiden at Churchill Downs and two races at Keeneland in the Breeders' Futurity and Breeders' Cup Juvenile this past November. Essential Quality is trained by Brad Cox who has been one of the hottest trainers in the last couple of years but is still looking for his first start at the Kentucky Derby.

Here is the complete line-up for Saturday's $800,000 Blue Grass Stakes with a post time of 6:35. It can be seen on NBC Sports Network.


HorseTrainerJockeyMorning-Line Odds
1Hidden StashVicki OliverRafael Bejarano20-1
2UntreatedTodd PletcherJoel Rosario8-1
3Highly MotivatedChad BrownJavier Castellano7-2
4Essential QualityBrad CoxLuis Saez3-5
5RombauerMichael McCarthyFlorent Geroux15-1
6LeblonPaulo LoboAlbin Jimenez30-1
7Hush of a StormWilliam MoreySantiago Gonzalez15-1
8Sittin On GoDale RomansCorey Lanerie30-1
9KeepmeinmindRobertino DiodoroDavid Cohen8-1


Brad Cox, trainer of Essential Quality (post 4: Luis Saez to ride)

“Post position, it’s important. But I feel comfortable in the 4 hole. Obviously Luis (Saez) is on him, and he knows what to do away from there. We’re in a good spot with him. Very happy with where he is mentally, physically. And the post is fine.”

“It’s very rare for a horse to be able to be 4 for 4 and have different tactics. He’s won from three- quarters all the way to 1 1/16 miles at the Grade 1 level. I just think it speaks volumes to actually how good he is and how much talent he has. We’re in a good spot with him. He’s just a very good horse.”

Robertino Diodoro, trainer of Keepmeinmind (post 9; David Cohen to ride)

“I like it. I like being outside rather than inside; he’s a big horse.”

Barry Irwin of Team Valor, owner of Untreated (post 2; Joel Rosario to ride)

“You always want to be toward the middle. We’re going to be in the back part of the race anyway, so hopefully it won’t have an impact on him.”

On choosing to run Untreated in the Toyota Blue Grass

“We wanted to run him in a good race. There was an allowance that was an option. We kind of know the horses that are out there that are going to be looking at this. (The Toyota Blue Grass) is going to be a pretty tough race. We think a lot of our horse. We know he’s behind the 8 ball in terms of experience and seasoning, but he can run 1¼ miles. The farther he goes, the more he likes it. He’s continuing to train well and we’re going to run him in here. If the horse was a speed horse, I wouldn’t do it. But a horse like this, a come-from-behind horse who can pick up horses, I feel it’s worth trying him here.”

Paulo Lobo, trainer of Leblon (post 6: Albin Jimenez to ride)

“Leblon had a very unlucky trip his last time out at Oaklawn (fourth in a Feb. 11 allowance race over a muddy track). He is improving a lot and we are going to come over Saturday (from The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington).”

Michael McCarthy, trainer of Rombauer (post 5; Florent Geroux to ride)

“That is a good post. I will be at Santa Anita Saturday and my assistant Justin Curran will be overseeing his preparation.”

William Morey, trainer of Hush of a Storm (post 7; Santiago Gonzalez to ride)

“The seven is a good spot. There is plenty of run to the first turn going a mile and an eighth. He will return to the track Wednesday morning (after working 5 furlongs in :59.80 at Keeneland on Monday).”

Vicki Oliver, trainer of Hidden Stash (post 1; Rafael Bejarano to ride)

“(The inside post) was the only place I didn’t want. That’s the second time I’ve drawn the one hole (with Hidden Stash). I would have liked to have been in the middle or toward the outside, but it is what it is. We’ll have to take a look at (the past performances) and see how much speed is in there and how we’ll play the race.”

Dale Romans, trainer of Sittin On Go (post 8; Corey Lanerie to ride)“Outside again. It is amazing he keeps drawing out there. But nine horses is a lot different than 12 so he should be OK. There is plenty of run into the first turn.”

“I’ll let the jock decide (the strategy), but we will probably just (wait) and come running.”

On comparing Sittin On Go to his sire, Brody’s Cause, who won the Toyota Blue Grass in 2016

“They are both straightforward horses who like what they do.”