Champion Storm the Court and recent Risen Star Presented by Lamarque Ford (G2) winner Mr. Monomoy, the leading point earner on the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1), are among the 136 3-year-olds nominated to the 96th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) on April 4, opening Saturday of Keeneland’s Spring Meet. This marks the 25th season Toyota has sponsored the race.
Click here for the list of the Toyota Blue Grass nominees; click here for their past performances. Post positions for the Toyota Blue Grass and Keeneland’s $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), a major prep race for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) also on April 4, will be drawn Wednesday, April 1.
One of the nation’s richest steppingstones to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) on May 2 at Churchill Downs, the 1 1/8-mile Toyota Blue Grass awards the winner 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The second-, third- and fourth-place finishers of the race earn 40 points, 20 points and 10 points, respectively.
“After the nominations are released for the Toyota Blue Grass, we become especially excited about the outstanding competition we can expect in the race thanks to the standout 3-year-olds who represent the sport’s leading horsemen,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “The Toyota Blue Grass leads the blockbuster opening Saturday of the Spring Meet and is the centerpiece of the season’s exciting four-day opening weekend.”
Keeneland’s 11-race card on April 4 features the Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland among the five stakes worth $2.25 million. Other stakes 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 the turf; and $250,000 Commonwealth (G3) for older horses at 7 furlongs on the dirt.
That day, Keeneland will offer a $400,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four and a $300,000-guaranteed All Stakes Pick Five.
The Toyota Blue Grass will be the 10th race with a 6:23 p.m. ET post. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Group along with the Wood Memorial (G2) from Aqueduct and Santa Anita Derby (G1).
Additionally, TVG will provide live, enhanced coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass and all Keeneland stakes.
In 2019, West Coast-based Storm the Court won the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and earned the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male. Trained by Peter Eurton, the son of Court Vision races for David A. Bernsen, Exline-Border Racing, Dan Hudock and Susanna Wilson. He is fourth on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
Mr. Monomoy, a $60,000 weanling at Keeneland’s 2017 November Breeding Stock Sale, earned his initial stakes win in the first division of the Risen Star on Feb. 15 to ascend to the top spot on the Road to the Kentucky Derby rankings. Brad Cox trains the Palace Malice colt, a half-brother to champion and 2018 Central Bank Ashland (G1) winner Monomoy Girl, for Madakat Stables, Michael Dubb and Doheny Racing Stable.
Nine of the 10 top-ranked horses on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard are nominated to the Toyota Blue Grass. Joining Storm the Court and Mr. Monomoy are Pam and Martin Wygod’s Modernist, winner of the Risen Star’s second division; John C. Oxley’s Lecomte (G3) winner Enforceable; Ed and Susie Orr’s Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Southwest (G3) winner Silver Prospector; Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) and Robert B. Lewis (G3) winner Thousand Words, who races for Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm; Lloyd Madison Farms IV’s Major Fed, runner-up in the second division of the Risen Star; Nashua (G3) and Jerome (L) winner and Sam F. Davis (G3) runner-up Independence Hall, who races for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, Kathleen Verratti and Robert N. Verratti; and Remsen (G2) winner and Withers (G3) runner-up Shotski, owned by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and Howling Pigeon Farms.
Other notable horses nominated to the Toyota Blue Grass include Jackpot Farm’s Runhappy Hopeful (G1) winnerBasin; American Pharoah (G1) winner Eight Rings, owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Frederick Hertrich III, John D. Fielding, Golconda Stables, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor and Derrick Smith; Godolphin’s Maxfield, who won Keeneland’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) in October; Jeff Drown and Don Rachel’s Structor, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Presented by Coolmore America (G1) and Pilgrim (G3); San Vicente (G2) winner Nadal, who races for George Bolton, Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman and Mark Mathiesen; Sham (G3) winner Authentic, owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Frederick Hertrich III, John D. Fielding and Golconda Stables; Albaugh Family Stables’ Iroquois (G3) winner Dennis’ Moment; George E. Hall’s Withers winner Max Player; Sam F. Davis winner Sole Volante, owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone and Limelight Stables Corp.; Mike McCarty’s Smarty Jones Stakes winnerGold Street; and WinStar Farm and Team Valor International’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity runner-upGouverneur Morris.
Todd Pletcher, who has three wins in the Toyota Blue Grass, leads all conditioners with 18 nominees, including Gouverneur Morris. Pletcher won the race with Bandini (2005), Monba (2008) and Carpe Diem (2015).
Among the other prominent trainers with multiple nominees are Bob Baffert (11), Steve Asmussen (9), Chad Brown (7), Brad Cox (5), D. Wayne Lukas (5) and Mike Maker (5).
The late nomination period for the Toyota Blue Grass closes Wednesday, March 18.
Keeneland’s 16-day Spring Meet begins Thursday, April 2, and concludes Friday, April 24. First post on opening day is 3 p.m. The eight-race card includes the second running of the $100,000 Palisades Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds at 5½ furlongs on the turf.
First post for the remainder of the season is 1:05 p.m.
After the four-day opening weekend, Keeneland will hold the April Two-Year-Olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age Sale on Tuesday. April 7. Preview Day, on which cataloged horses will work on dirt or turf, is Monday, April 6.
The Spring Meet resumes Wednesday, April 8, and will be held Wednesdays through Sundays, except Easter Sunday, April 12, when Keeneland is closed.