E Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables’ champion Good Magic, purchased for $1 million at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, was installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s 94th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2).
A total of 15 3-year-olds, including one also-eligible, was entered Tuesday for the 1 1/8-mile main track test that serves as a major steppingstone to the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) to be run May 5 at Churchill Downs.
The Toyota Blue Grass offers 170 points toward qualification for this year’s Derby with 100 going to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third place and 10 points to fourth. The Derby is limited to the top 20 point earners that pass the entry box and currently the cut line is 29 points.
The Toyota Blue Grass will go as the 10th race on Saturday’s 11-race program with a 6:23 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.
NBC Sports Network will have a live national broadcast of the Toyota Blue Grass, along with the Wood Memorial (G2) from Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby (G1), from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Trained by Chad Brown, Good Magic earned the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male of 2017 following his victory in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar.
In his lone 2018 race, Good Magic finished third in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park on March 3. Jose Ortiz has the mount on Good Magic, who will break from post position 11.
Second choice on the morning line at 5-1 is the Albaugh Family Stables’ Free Drop Billy.
Trained by two-time Toyota Blue Grass winner Dale Romans, Free Drop Billy will try to join Romans’ trainees Dullahan and Brody’s Cause as victors in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at 2 and the Toyota Blue Grass. The only other horses to accomplish the double were Round Table and Carpe Diem.
Free Drop Billy enters Saturday’s race off a third-place finish in the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct on March 10. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount on Free Drop Billy and will break from post position 10.
Romans also will send out Frank Jones’ Tiz Mischief. A maiden winner at Keeneland last fall, Tiz Mischief finished fifth in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) in his most recent start. Corey Lanerie has the mount on Tiz Mischief and will break from post position nine as a 30-1 morning-line proposition.
Co-third choice on the morning line at 6-1 is Tampa Bay Derby winner Quip. Trained by Rodolphe Brisset and owned by the partnership of China Horse Club International, WinStar Farm and SF Racing, Quip has won three of four starts with one of those triumphs coming at Keeneland last fall. Florent Geroux has the mount on Quip, who will break from post position five.
Also at 6-1 on the morning line is John Oxley’s Flameaway. Trained by Mark Casse, Flameaway was runner-up to Quip in his most recent start in the Tampa Bay Derby and prior to that won the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. Flameaway, winner of Keeneland’s Dixiana Bourbon (G3) last fall, will break from post position 12 and be ridden by Jose Lezcano.
Four other trainers beside Romans will be trying to add to their Toyota Blue Grass victory totals.
Three-time winner Todd Pletcher will be represented by Marconi. Owned in partnership by Bridlewood Farm, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, Marconi is listed at 15-1 on the morning line. Ryan Moore has the mount and will break from post position six.
Two-time winner D. Wayne Lukas will send out Robert Baker and William Mack’s Sporting Chance, winner of the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga. To be ridden by Luis Saez, Sporting Chance (10-1 on the morning line) will break from post position two. Lukas won the Toyota Blue Grass in 1987 with War and in 2000 with High Yield. Saez won the 2016 Toyota Blue Grass on Brody’s Cause.
Doug O’Neill, whose Irap became the first maiden to win the Toyota Blue Grass last year, will try to become the third trainer to win the race in consecutive years when he sends out Greg Hall and SAYJAY Racing’s Blended Citizen and R3 Racing, Steven Keh and C T R Stables’ Arawak on Saturday.
Listed at 15-1 on the morning line, Blended Citizen won the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) in his most recent start at Turfway Park on March 17 with Arawak finishing third. Kyle Frey has the mount on Blended Citizen, who will break from post position seven, while Arawak (30-1) will break from post 14 under Fernando De La Cruz.
Other trainers to win the race in consecutive years are LeRoy Jolley with Honest Pleasure and For the Moment in 1976 and 1977, and Ben Jones with Faultless in 1947 and Coaltown in 1948.
Mike Maker, who sent out Stately Victor to post the biggest upset in race history with an $82.80 payoff in 2010, will saddle Three Diamonds Farm’s California Night. A winner of two of three starts, California Night will break from post position three and be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione. California Night is 30-1 on the morning line.
In addition to Saez, Julien Leparoux will be trying to add to his Toyota Blue Grass victory total. Leparoux has the mount on West Point Thoroughbreds’ Kanthaka. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Kanthaka is 10-1 on the morning line and will break from post position four.
Leparoux, who won last year’s race on Irap, also will be trying to join six other riders to have won the race in consecutive years. Edgar Prado in 2002 and 2003 is the most recent jockey to accomplish the feat, joining Bill Shoemaker (twice), Eddie Arcaro, Pat Day, Shane Sellers and Mike Smith. Leparoux also won the 2013 renewal on Java’s War.
The field for the Toyota Blue Grass, with riders and morning-line odds, from the rail out is: Zing Zang (Shaun Bridgmohan, 30-1), Sporting Chance (Saez, 10-1), California Night (Gaffalione, 30-1), Kanthaka (Leparoux, 10-1), Quip (Geroux, 6-1), Marconi (Moore, 15-1), Blended Citizen (Frey, 15-1), Gotta Go (Chris Landeros, 30-1), Tiz Mischief (Lanerie, 30-1), Free Drop Billy (Ortiz Jr., 5-1), Good Magic (Ortiz, 2-1), Flameaway (Lezcano, 6-1). Machismo (Jake Radosevich, 20-1) and Arawak (De La Cruz, 30-1). Also-Eligible: Determinant (Gaffalione, 20-1). All starters will carry 123 pounds.
TOYOTA BLUE GRASS POST POSITION DRAW QUOTES
Bobby Powell, consultant for Terry Green’s Jackpot Farm, owner of Zing Zang; post 1; 30-1 in the morning line
“(Drawing the rail) is OK. We have a horse that’s big, he needs to stay out of trouble. He’s not going to be on the front end, so the rail will not bother us. Once he gets his momentum going, he needs to be out of trouble and have a clear path in front of him. Having the rail, going the first half-mile, it’s not going to bother us at all.”
Michael Hernon, Director of Sales for Gainesway Farm. Zing Zang was bred by Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd.
“He’s a horse that gets into a rhythm. He’ll come later in the race. It’s a mile and an eighth; he’s improving and if he gets a good trip, hopefully he’ll be making a challenge at the furlong marker.”
Christina Jelm, East Coast assistant for Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer of Kanthaka; post 4; 10-1
“Kanthaka has won previously from posts 3 and 5 and so we are quite pleased starting from position number 4. It’s clear that our horse has a tremendous turn of foot and his versatility will allow (Jockey Julien) Leparoux to rate however necessary when the gates open.”
Rodolphe Brisset, trainer of Quip; post 5; 6-1
“The horse trained here last year for six months, we already have a run here (an allowance win in October), and we know he likes the track. We got a good draw.”
David Hanley, General Manager of WinStar Farm, breeder and co-owner of Quip
“I think (post five) is the perfect spot for him. He has plenty of speed out of the gate and should be able to sit himself in a good position out of there. He should get a position and be able to relax.”
Jack Sisterson, assistant to Doug O’Neill, trainer of Blended Citizen and Arawak. Blended Citizen drew post 7; 15-1. Arawak drew post 14; 30-1
“(The post for) Blended Citizen is great. He shows no early speed so he’s just going to break, play the break and get into his momentum. He’ll be finishing up pretty strongly the last eighth of a mile, so we’re not concerned with his post position. And Arawak drawing wide, we’ve had luck with Nyquist drawing 13 and I’ll Have Another was 19 (when both won the Kentucky Derby), so the wide draw doesn’t concern us. (Arawak is) going to have blinkers added on Saturday and he’s got a good gate rider (Fernando De La Cruz), so he’s going to be a lot more forwardly placed just to get a good position early so he’s not too wide going into the first turn.”
Ian Wilkes, trainer of Gotta Go, by phone from Ocala, Florida; post 8, 30-1
“Post eight is fine. No problem at all there. At least we are not down on the fence and not stuck on the far outside.”
Dale Romans, trainer of Tiz Mischief and Free Drop Billy. Tiz Mischief drew post 9; 30-1. Free Drop Billy drew post 10; 5-1
“Those are good spots. In a 14-horse field, you worry about getting too far outside. And if you are too far inside, you can get (interfered with). They are sitting in perfect spots.”
Chad Brown, trainer of Good Magic, via text; post 11, 2-1 favorite
“The post is slightly disappointing, but he’s training very well.”
Mike Ryan, representing e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, co-owner of Good Magic
“It’s a bulky field; obviously (he’ll need) a clean break, and a smooth trip is critical because there will be horses backing up. There will be traffic in the race with as large of a field as we have. He’s good breaking, and he has tactical speed. I believe he can put himself in the race. Jose (Ortiz) knows him very well and hopefully he’ll be in a nice stalking position going into the first turn and stay out of trouble.”
David Carroll, assistant to trainer Mark Casse about Flameaway; post 12; 6-1
“The post is the post; he’s a very experienced horse. He’s won (the Dixiana Bourbon-G3) over the track (here). He’ll be forwardly placed, and (jockey) Jose (Lezcano) knows the horse well and we’re very happy with him. We’d obviously like to be drawn in a little bit more inside, but he won the Bourbon from this post. We’re looking forward to the race. He shipped in yesterday and looks terrific and Mark’s been very happy with him.”
Anthony Quartarolo, trainer of Machismo; post 13, 20-1
“Not that happy with the post, but we’ll see how we can overcome it. He has good gate speed, and the three speed (horses) inside are going to go. It’s going to be a little bit of maneuvering (around the first turn) to try to get a good trip because everyone else is going to be looking for position. (In) a big field, the break is huge; gotta break clean, gotta get a clean trip and just hope everything works out.”
Click here for a video of today’s Post Position Draw for the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and Central Bank Ashland (G1).
KEENELAND CARDS 11 RACES SATURDAY
Post time for the first race on all 16 days of Keeneland’s 2018 Spring Meet, which opens Friday, is 1:05 p.m. ET. On Saturday, Keeneland will run 11 races with the final race post time of 6:50 p.m. Approximate post times for the day’s stakes are Commonwealth (G3) at 4 p.m., Shakertown (G2) at 4:35 p.m., Madison (G1) at 5:10 p.m., Central Bank Ashland (G1) at 5:45 p.m. and Toyota Blue Grass (G2) at 6:23df p.m.
The Spring Meet concludes Friday, April 27, with racing on Wednesdays through Sundays.
LOWERED TAKEOUT, EARLY PICK 5
Keeneland has lowered takeout for the 2018 Spring Meet, with pricing on win, place and show wagers decreasing from 17.5 percent to 16 percent and from 22 percent to 19.5 percent on exactas. Takeout for the Pick 5 is 15 percent. Takeout for all other exotic wagers remains at 22 percent.
New this spring is an Early Pick 5 with its own carryover provisions separate from the Late Pick 5.
OTHER APRIL 7 WAGERING OPPORTUNITIES
All-Stakes Pick 4 Presented by TVG. A $400,000-guaranteed Pick 4 featuring races 7-10: the Shakertown (G2), Madison (G1), Central Bank Ashland (G1) and Toyota Blue Grass (G2).
All-Stakes Pick 5 Presented by TVG. A $300,000-guaranteed Pick 5 featuring races 6-10: Commonwealth, Shakertown, Madison, Central Bank Ashland and Toyota Blue Grass.