Click here for a list of Toyota Blue Grass (G2) nominees and past performances, and stakes history and statistics.
LEXINGTON, KY (Feb. 24, 2017) – John C. Oxley’s champion Classic Empire leads an all-star roster of 146 sophomores, including 18 of the top 20 point earners on the Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1), nominated to the 93rd running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) on April 8, opening Saturday of Keeneland’s 2017 Spring Meet.
The Toyota Blue Grass is one of the nation’s richest prep races for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, to be held May 6. The winner of the 1 1/8-mile Toyota Blue Grass earns 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The second-, third- and fourth-place finishers receive 40 points, 20 points and 10 points, respectively.
NBC Sports Network will provide live coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass, along with the Wood Memorial (G2) from Aqueduct and Santa Anita Derby (G1), from 5:30 -7:30 p.m. ET.
A complete list of the Toyota Blue Grass nominees and their past performances as well as race history and statistics can be found at Keeneland.com/bluegrass. Post positions for the Toyota Blue Grass will be drawn Tuesday, April 4.
“We are excited by the depth and quality of this year’s nominees, and we thank our horsemen for their strong support,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “The position of the Toyota Blue Grass on the spring race calendar coupled with the $1 million purse make it an outstanding showcase for many Triple Crown contenders.”
Classic Empire proved his affinity for Keeneland last fall, winning the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) as a prep for victory in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita and an Eclipse Award as champion juvenile male in 2016. Trained by Mark Casse, the colt by Pioneerof the Nile opened his 2017 campaign Feb. 4 with a third-place finish in the Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream.
Eighteen of the 20 leading point earners on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, topped by Classic Empire with 32 points, are nominated to the Toyota Blue Grass and include such accomplished 3-year-olds as M M G Stables’ El Areeb, winner of the Jerome (G3) and Withers (G3); Whitham Thoroughbreds’ Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Sam F. Davis (G3) winner McCraken; WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing’s undefeated Southwest (G3) winner One Liner; Isabella de Tomaso’s Irish War Cry, winner of the Lambholm South Holy Bull; and Peacock Racing Stables’ Gunnevera, winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) who was second in the Holy Bull.
Among the other leading contenders on the Kentucky Derby trail nominated to the Toyota Blue Grass are W.S. Farish and Lora Jean Kilroy’s Lecomte (G3) winner Guest Suite; Cheyenne Stables’ Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity (G1) and Bob Hope (G3) winner Mastery; Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Team D’s Remsen (G2) winner Mo Town; Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence’s Champagne (G1) and Hopeful (G1) winner Practical Joke; Harry T. Rosenblum and Robert V. LaPenta’s Smarty Jones winner Uncontested; and Rialto Racing Stables and Southern Springs Stables’ Petrov and L and N Racing’s Lookin At Lee, second and third, respectively, in the recent Southwest.
Multiple Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher, who conditions One Liner, leads all trainers by number of nominees to the Toyota Blue Grass with 18. Pletcher has won the Toyota Blue Grass three times with Bandini (2005), Monba (2008) and Carpe Diem (2015).
Other prominent trainers represented by multiple nominees include Hall of Famers Bob Baffert (10 nominees) and Steve Asmussen (9 nominees); 2016 Eclipse Award winner Chad Brown; and Mark Casse, D. Wayne Lukas, Michael Maker, Kiaran McLaughlin, Kenny McPeek, H. Graham Motion, Doug O’Neill, Dale Romans and Wesley Ward.
A late nomination period for the Toyota Blue Grass closes Wednesday, March 22.
The Toyota Blue Grass and its counterpart for 3-year-old fillies, the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), anchor a blockbuster 11-race card on April 8 that features five stakes worth $2.25 million. Highlighting the day, in addition to the Toyota Blue Grass and Ashland, are the $300,000 Madison (G1) for older fillies and mares at 7 furlongs on the dirt; $200,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on turf; and $250,000 Commonwealth (G3) for older horses at 7 furlongs on the dirt.
Post time for the first race April 8 is 1:05 p.m. Post time for the Toyota Blue Grass is 6:12 p.m.
That day, Keeneland will offered a $400,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four and $300,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Five.
Keeneland’s 15-day Spring Meet opens Friday, April 7 and concludes Friday, April 28, with racing on Wednesdays through Sundays. Keeneland will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 16. Post time for the first race each day is 1:05 p.m.