Blue Grass Stakes Is a Wide Open Horse Race

by Greg Melikov

posted on April 6, 2010 in General Discussion, Kentucky Derby, Other Events | 1 Comment >>

Most of the 3-year-olds running in the 86th Blue Grass Stakes need to win or run second to make the field in America’s Race on May 1.

It’s a simple case of money talks and losers walk. The $2 million Kentucky Derby has been restricted to 20 starters since 1975, while graded stakes earnings accumulated in major preps have determined who gets in since ’86.

Keeneland’s 1 1/8-mile contest, worth $450,000 to the winner and $150,000 for second, is truly a wide-open horse race.

Interactif, listed 15th with graded earnings of $270,450, is 2-2-1 in five stakes, but four were on grass. The son of Broken Vow, runner-up to Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney’s Candy in the San Felipe in his only trip over a synthetic surface, could easily qualify Saturday with a third-place finish worth $75,000.

Aikenite, 19th with $218,000, galloped a mile at Keeneland on Monday after shipping in from the Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida, where he turned in his final work Saturday, covering five furlongs in 1:02 1/5.

The son of Yes It’s True was runner-up to Noble’s Promise last fall in Keeneland’s Breeders’ Cup Futurity. Make Music for Me, 20th with $215,000 banked, ran fourth in that race. But the son of Bernstein only broke his maiden last month on the turf in the one-mile Pasadena at Santa Anita.

The multiple Grade 1-placed son of Bernstein drilled six furlongs in a bullet 1:13 Saturday on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track.

Paddy O’ Prado, 34th with $109,950, also broke his maiden on the grass in March — in Gulfstream Park’s Palm Beach at 1 1/16 miles. The son of El Prado jogged two miles Monday.

Odysseus, 23rd with $180,000 earned for his nose victory in the Tampa Bay Derby, arrived in Lexington Sunday and got acquainted with the Polytrack right away, jogging a mile on Monday followed by a leisurely gallop of 1 1/2 miles.

All four of his races have been on dirt. The son of Malibu Moon ran second in his debut last fall at Aqueduct, before breaking his maiden in January at Gulfstream. He exploded on the Derby trail with a 15-length victory in allowance optional claiming company at Tampa Bay Downs in February, his first race around two turns.

Florida Derby runner-up Pleasant Prince, 26th with $162.500, jogged a mile one day after covering five furlongs in a bullet 58 2/5.

Codoy needs to win it all. He finished first in his only start this year in the Battaglia Memorial over Turfway’s Polytrack, but was disqualified to second for interference. He broke his maiden on grass last year at the Kentucky track.

The colt, another son of Bernstein, breezed five furlongs Friday at Keeneland in 1:01 4/5, galloping out the six furlongs in 1:14 2/5.

The last Derby winner to make his final prep in the Blue Grass was Street Sense, who was second in ’07. Back in ’95 Thunder Gulch finished fourth at Keeneland, but captured the Derby. Both were favored in the Blue Grass, but not the Derby.

You must go back several decades to find the last Blue Grass winner than smelled the roses – Strike the Gold in ’91.