Horse racing is nearing the far turn on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The modified major stakes race schedule includes the $600,000 Blue Grass Stakes (Grade 2) on July 11 at Keeneland, the host track of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championship Nov. 6-7.
The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes is a major qualifier in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series. This year’s race will again award Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers (100-40-20-10). Originally scheduled for April 4, the Blue Grass Stakes has been contested since 1911. This will be the first time the race has never had fans in the stands, as the COVID-19 health crisis continues and fans will not be allowed at the track.
BETTING THE BLUE GRASS STAKES
Betting interest is expected to be big as fans wager online and from mobile apps. That includes on the Keeneland Select app and at major online horse racing platforms like TVG and TwinSpires.
A record $25.8 million was bet on Blue Grass day in 2019, and this year’s card has 10 races including six big graded stakes events. Three of those are Grade 1 races, including the $400,000 Ashland Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Six runners are lined up for the Ashland, which awards 100-40-20-10 points toward the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks.
With the Keeneland Spring Meet canceled due to COVID-19, the Blue Grass Stakes is now part of the five-day Summer Meet and the biggest day of racing at Keeneland until the Breeders’ Cup.
This year’s Blue Grass Stakes drew 13 runners, including top 3-year-old filly Swiss Skydiver. She’ll run against the boys but won’t take a backseat, as she is the morning line favorite at 3 to 1 odds. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith rides for trainer Kenny McPeek.
|2||Finnick the Fierce||12/1||J. Ortiz|
|3||Art Collector||5/1||B. Hernandez, Jr.|
|4||Mr. Big News||10/1||M. Murrell|
|5||Man in the Can||10/1||T. Gaffalione|
|6||Hard Lightning||50/1||R. Bejarano|
|7||Swiss Skydiver||3/1||M. Smith|
|8||Basin||8/1||R. Santana, Jr|
|9||Attachment Rate||20/1||L. Saez|
|11||Hunt the Front||30/1||C. Lanerie|
RECENT BLUE GRASS HISTORY
The significance of Kentucky racing and the Blue Grass at Keeneland extends to the purchasing of many great thoroughbreds. Each of the last five Blue Grass winners was bought at the Keeneland September yearling sale. Those five winners and thoroughbreds ranged in price from $100,000 (Irap, 2017 winner) to $1 million (Good Magic, 2018).
Three of those five winners won the Blue Grass as the race favorite — Carpe Diem (2/5) in 2015, Good Magic (8/5) in 2018 and Vekoma (7/5) in 2019. Vekoma won the Met Mile last week and will run in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup TVG Mile at Keeneland.
Good Magic had the best Kentucky Derby finish when he ran second behind 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify. The last Blue Grass Stakes winner to capture the Kentucky Derby was Strike the Gold in 1991.