Keeneland

Even long shot has a good shot in Blue Grass

During Wednesday's post position draw for Saturday's Grade I Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, trainer Mark Hubley was taken aback by the enormity of the task he was asking of his charge Codoy.

"Listening to the handicapper (Mike Battaglia), I got a little intimidated (with him) extolling the virtues of everybody else's horse," Hubley joked.

Codoy might not have the flashy credentials of some of his rivals, but recent history suggests the son of Bernstein is as dangerous a threat as any in the nine-horse field.

Over the past four years, being the betting favorite at the Blue Grass Stakes has not exactly been a benefit.

Since 2006, the shortest odds of any winner was 8-1 Dominican, who stunned champion Street Sense at the wire. Last season, trainer/owner Tom McCarthy's General Quarters was the latest to spring the upset when he won at odds of 14-1.

Though Codoy was made the co-longest shot at 30-1, his proven form over turf and synthetic tracks gives him — and a few others — a potential edge over morning-line pick Pleasant Prince and second-choice Odysseus.

While Pleasant Prince, Odysseus and the improving Aikenite own zero wins over a synthetic surface, Codoy earned his lone win in seven career starts with a maiden victory at Turfway Park last September. The bay colt also crossed the wire first in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway on Feb. 27 only to be disqualified to second for interference.

"I hope he doesn't run like he's 30-1," joked Hubley, a New York native who is the son of three-time Academy Award-winning animated filmmakers John and Faith Hubley. "Most of these horses have run second to a good horse. We'll see what happens.

"I think this race is pretty wide open, really. It'll be fun. We're ready to go."

The Blue Grass may represent a step up in class for Codoy, but the leap isn't as dramatic as one might think.

Interactif, one of a slew of potential Kentucky Derby contenders from the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher, defeated Codoy by a length in winning the Grade III Bourbon Stakes over the turf at Keene-land last October and has not run a bad race since.

Interactif was beaten only three-quarters of a length while finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last November and is coming into the Blue Grass off a second-place finish behind Sidney's Candy in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes over the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita Park on March 13.

"I think with Interactif, he's a closer anyway, and he'll probably be in less traffic being on the outside," Ginny DiPasquale, assistant to Pletcher, said after Interactif drew post-position nine. "It's not like it's a huge field. We're hoping he'll get tucked in nicely. He'll be tucked in, even if he's tucked in last."

The Alexis Barba-trained Make Music for Me has done battle with some of the leaders of this year's 3-year-old division, finishing second to champion Lookin At Lucky in both the Grade II Best Pal Stakes last August and the Grade I Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 7.

Make Music for Me has also chased Noble's Promise, running fourth last October in the Grade I Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. Once he finally got away from that crew, Make Music for Me was able to break through with a stakes win of his own, capturing the Pasadena Stakes over the turf at Santa Anita on March 6.

"He ran OK in that race," Barba said about Make Music for Me's prior effort at Keeneland. "He got in a little bit of trouble. We've got blinkers on this time, and he's a little fresher now.

"I think (the Blue Grass) is a very competitive field," Barba continued. "I think it's anybody's race."

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