Keeneland

Guide to Saturday’s $1 million Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland

Dale Romans just wants to win the Blue Grass Stakes again

Trainer Dale Romans needs points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Aside from that, however, he says it would just be an honor to win the Toyota Blue Grass again. He won in 2012 with Dullahan and 2016 with Brody’s Cause.
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Trainer Dale Romans needs points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Aside from that, however, he says it would just be an honor to win the Toyota Blue Grass again. He won in 2012 with Dullahan and 2016 with Brody’s Cause.

Keeneland’s big Kentucky Derby prep race, the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, plays out Saturday evening on the race course’s opening weekend. Here’s everything you need to know to get set for the 95th running of the Blue Grass:

Post time: 6:23 p.m. (10th race)

Purse: $1 million (Grade 2)

For: 3-year-olds

Distance: 1 1/8 miles (dirt)

Derby points: 100-40-20-10

TV: NBC Sports Network (Broadcast runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and includes live coverage of Derby preps at Aqueduct and Santa Anita — the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby)

Here’s a look at the field with morning-line odds for the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes:

1. Somelikeithotbrown (10-1)

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Trainer: Mike Maker

Owners: Skychai Racing and Sand Dollar Stable

Career record: 7 starts (3 firsts, 2 seconds, 1 third)

Career earnings: $363,478

Kentucky Derby points: 20

Most recent race: Won the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on March 9 at Turfway Park.

Notable: Somelikeithotbrown has the most Road to the Derby points of any contender in the Blue Grass Stakes field and comes in off back-to-back wins at Turfway Park. He has not finished out of the money since his first career race last July at Saratoga.

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Somelikeithotbrown claimed 20 road to the Kentucky Derby points by winning the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park on March 9. Coady Photography

2. Vekoma (9-5)

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: George Weaver

Owners: R.A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stable

Career record: 3 starts (2 firsts, 0 seconds, 1 third)

Career earnings: $188,850

Kentucky Derby points: 10

Most recent race: Finished third in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 2 at Gulfstream Park.

Notable: Vekoma is lightly raced but widely respected after wins in his first two races, including the Grade 3 Nashua at Aqueduct, followed by a fast-finishing third in the Fountain of Youth.

3. Signalman (5-1)

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Trainer: Kenny McPeek

Owners: Tommie M. Lewis, Steve Crabtree, Dean Demaree, David Bremsen, Jim Chambers, and Magdalena Racing

Career record: 6 starts (2 firsts, 2 seconds, 1 third)

Career earnings: $452,990

Kentucky Derby points: 18

Most recent race: Finished seventh in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 2 at Gulfstream Park.

Notable: Signalman ran second in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last October and won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs last November.

4. Market King (20-1)

Jockey: Jon Court

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Owners: Robert C. Baker and William L. Mack

Career record: 7 starts (1 first, 1 second, 2 thirds)

Career earnings: $145,785

Kentucky Derby points: 7.5

Most recent race: Finished third in his division of the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes on March 16 at Oaklawn Park.

Notable: Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has more than 600 career graded stakes wins, has won the Blue Grass Stakes twice — with High Yield in 2000 and War in 1987.

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Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes twice previously. Julie Jacobson AP

5. Chess Chief (30-1)

Jockey: Paco Lopez

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: James Coleman Jr.

Career record: 5 starts (1 first, 0 seconds, 1 third)

Career earnings: $33,590

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Most recent race: Won a maiden special weight race on March 2 at Fair Grounds.

Notable: The Blue Grass will be the first career stakes race for Chess Chief.

6. Dream Maker (12-1)

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: John C. Oxley

Career record: 5 starts (2 firsts, 0 seconds, 0 thirds)

Career earnings: $72,850

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Most recent race: Finished 10th in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Notable: Dream Maker has struggled in all three of his graded stakes appearances, running fifth in the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga, 12th in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and 10th in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.

Trainer Kenny McPeek has Signalman in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday, April 6, 2019, at Keeneland Race Course. An 8-1 choice in the morning line, Signalman needs points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby on May 4.

7. Admire (15-1)

Jockey: Robbie Albarado

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owner: Albaugh Family Stables

Career record: 4 starts (1 firsts, 0 seconds, 0 thirds)

Career earnings: $58,060

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Most recent race: Finished seventh in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Notable: Albaugh Family Stables has put a horse in the Kentucky Derby each of the past three years, with Free Drop Billy (2018), J Boys Echo (2017) and Brody’s Cause (2016).

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Trainer Dale Romans has a pair of contenders in this year’s Blue Grass Stakes with Admire and Moonster. Jonathan Palmer Jonathan Palmer

8. Win Win Win (7-2)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Michael Trombetta

Owner: Live Oak Plantation

Career record: 5 starts (3 firsts, 1 second, 1 third)

Career earnings: $167,300

Kentucky Derby points: 10

Most recent race: Finished third in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Notable: Win Win Win set a Tampa Bay Downs track record in winning the 7-furlong Pasco Stakes by 7 ¼ lengths on Jan. 19.

9. Sir Winston (15-1)

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: Tracy Farmer

Career record: 7 starts (2 firsts, 0 seconds, 1 third)

Career earnings: $99,550

Kentucky Derby points: 1

Most recent race: Finished fifth in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Notable: Sir Winston’s speed figures have taken a jump upward with every race he’s run.

10. Lucky Lee (20-1)

Jockey: Chris Landeros

Trainer: John Servis

Owner: Cash is King

Career record: 4 starts (2 firsts, 0 seconds, 0 thirds)

Career earnings: $58,600

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Most recent race: Finished seventh in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes on Feb. 2 at Aqueduct.

Notable: Servis also trains Jaywalk, the 2018 Eclipse Award winner for 2-year-old fillies and the favorite for Saturday’s Central Bank Ashland Stakes at Keeneland.

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John Servis trains 20-1 shot Lucky Lee in the Blue Grass Stakes but also has 8-5 favorite Jaywalk in Saturday’s Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. Ron Garrison rgarrison@herald-leader.com

11. So Alive (15-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Robert V. LaPenta

Career record: 4 starts (2 firsts, 0 seconds, 1 third)

Career earnings: $72,569

Kentucky Derby points: 2

Most recent race: Finished third in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 9 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Notable: So Alive was bumped at the start of the Sam F. Davis but was flying at the end and rallied from last in a field of nine to finish third.

12. Parsimony (20-1)

Jockey: Mario Gutierrez

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Owner: Reddam Racing

Career record: 8 starts (0 firsts, 4 seconds, 0 thirds)

Career earnings: $56,700

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Most recent race: Finished eighth in his division of the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes on March 16 at Oaklawn Park.

Notable: Parsimony is a perpetual bridesmaid. He’s never won a race but has been a runner-up four times. However, O’Neill and Reddam Racing brought colt with an almost-identical resume to Keeneland in 2017 and won it all. Irap was 0-for-7 with three runner-up finishes before winning the Blue Grass.

13. Moonster (30-1)

Jockey: John McKee

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owner: Calumet Farm

Career record: 8 starts (1 first, 0 seconds, 2 thirds)

Career earnings: $60,549

Kentucky Derby points: 4

Most recent race: Finished third in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on March 9 at Turfway Park.

Notable: Moonster is one of the most seasoned contenders in the Blue Grass Stakes. Saturday’s race will be the ninth start of his young career.



14. Aquadini (30-1)

Jockey: Corey Lanerie

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owners: Andrew Farm and On Our Own Stable

Career record: 4 starts (1 first, 1 second, 0 thirds)

Career earnings: $36,060

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Most recent race: Finished second in an allowance optional claiming race on March 2 at Fair Grounds.

Notable: Saturday will be the first time Aquadini has raced anywhere other than Fair Grounds and his first attempt against stakes competition.

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