The Blue Grass Stakes was named for the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, which is characterized by grass having bluish-green culms and is known as the heart of the Thoroughbred breeding industry. First run at the Kentucky Association track in Lexington in 1911, the Blue Grass has, from its inception, served as an important prep for the Kentucky Derby. At the Association track, the Blue Grass was staged from 1911-1914 and from 1919-1926. The race was revived at Keeneland in the spring of 1937. In 1943-1944, the Blue Grass was renewed as a part of the Keeneland– at–Churchill Downs meetings. In 1945, the Blue Grass was run as a part of the Churchill Downs meeting. Toyota became the corporate sponsor of the race in 1996.