Trainer Dale Romans was at Keeneland Friday morning to oversee his two Toyota Blue Grass (G2) entrants – Albaugh Family Stables’ Free Drop Billy and Frank Jones Jr.’s Tiz Mischief – as each galloped 1½ miles after the renovation break. The stablemates shipped to Keeneland Thursday from their Churchill Downs base.
“They trained super, they’re feeling good and they love this race track,” Romans said of the colts, who were each ridden by exercise rider Faustino Aguiler.
Tiz Mischief drew post position nine for the Toyota Blue Grass with Free Drop Billy just to his outside in the 10 spot.
Both colts won at Keeneland on Oct. 7. Free Drop Billy took the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) four races after Tiz Mischief earned his first career victory in a maiden race. Free Drop Billy is coming off a third-place finish in the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct on March 10.
Tiz Mischief comes to the Toyota Blue Grass after finishing fifth in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 10.
“Free Drop Billy just has to be himself and he will be right there,” Romans said. “He’s won at all distances at all different tracks and he will run big this weekend. He’s a cool horse. He’s laid back and he takes care of business. In the last two weeks he has become very arrogant. He is starting to figure out he is the big man in the barn. When he goes to the track, he bounces and he might buck a little bit to let everyone know he is the boss.”
Romans attributed Free Drop Billy’s Gotham loss to interference he encountered in the race and said he expects Tiz Mischief to improve from his Tampa Bay Derby defeat.
In other activities of Toyota Blue Grass horses at Keeneland …
Three Diamonds Farm’s California Night galloped 1¼ miles before the break with Katie Clawson aboard for trainer Mike Maker. …
John C. Oxley’s Determinant, who galloped Friday morning, will run in the Blue Grass rather than today’s Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3), in which he also was entered.
Oxley’s other Toyota Blue Grass entrant, Flameaway, galloped just over a mile with Kim Carroll aboard for trainer Mark Casse. The race will mark the second Keeneland start for Flameaway, who won the Dixiana Bourbon (G3) in October.
“We’re going to have to hustle a little bit from our post (12),” Casse said. “He really doesn’t care about anything, so he doesn’t have to be on the lead. I just would like, turning for home, for him to be in the fight, because he’s our Rocky. He just gets the job done.”
Lothenbach Stables’ Gotta Go galloped 1½ miles before the renovation break with exercise rider Carlos Deyan aboard for trainer Ian Wilkes. …
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Kanthaka galloped 1½ miles before the break with Cecily Evans aboard for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Kanthaka is scheduled to school in the Paddock with horses in Friday afternoon’s fifth race.
Ron Paolucci, Ashley Quartarolo, Raquel Ritchie and Cristina Ritchie’s Machismo galloped 1½ miles under jockey Jake Radosevich for trainer Anthony Quartarolo. …
Making his initial appearance on the track was Michael Tabor, Bridlewood Farm, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s Marconi.
Trained by three-time Toyota Blue Grass winner Todd Pletcher, Marconi galloped 1¼ miles under Katherine Zwiesler after the break. …
Also on the track for the first time was Robert Baker and William Mack’s Sporting Chance.
Trained by two-time Toyota Blue Grass winner D. Wayne Lukas, Sporting Chance “went through the Paddock, jogged a mile and loped a mile” under exercise rider Allison Walker shortly after 6 a.m., according to Lukas, who is Keeneland’s all-time leader in victories with 293 and second all-time in stakes wins with 50.
Sporting Chance arrived at Keeneland Wednesday afternoon from Oaklawn Park, where he has made his two starts in 2018. Sporting Chance finished third in a muddy Southwest (G3) in his first start in five months and then was fifth in the Rebel (G2) on March 17.
Lukas opted to run in the Toyota Blue Grass as opposed to waiting a week for the Arkansas Derby (G1).
“There were many reasons (to run here),” Lukas said. “The timing here is better as it gives us four weeks to the next one (the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve-G1) instead of three and we get Luis Saez, who was on him for his best races last year.”
Winner of the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga in September, Sporting Chance has worked twice since the Rebel.
“He has had a good three weeks,” Lukas said. “His last two works were his best of the year (:48.40 for a half-mile on April 2 and :59.20 for 5 furlongs on March 27). He did those on his own with no company.”
Listed at 10-1 on the morning line, Sporting Chance will break from post position two. “That’s a real good spot,” Lukas said. …
Jackpot Farm’s Zing Zang galloped before the morning renovation break and visited the starting gate for trainer Steve Asmussen. Zing Zang is scheduled to school in the Paddock with horses in the fifth race. …
Expected to be scratched from the Toyota Blue Grass in favor of the April 14 Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park. WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and SF Racing’s Quip went 4 furlongs in :48.60 before sunrise with trainer Rodolphe Brisset in the saddle.
“He worked great and galloped out really well,” WinStar General Manager David Hanley said about the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner.
Brisset said Quip is to depart Keeneland on a van this evening. Brisset is scheduled to fly to Arkansas this afternoon so he can unload the Distorted Humor colt when he arrives.