Java's War, trained by Kenny McPeek, closed strongly in the stretch to grab the win over Palace Malice in the Grade 1, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. Before a crowd of 37,161, the second highest attendance on Blue Grass Day, Java's War and jockey Julien Leparoux gave the crowd the thrilling duel at the finish line fans love.
At the top of the stretch, Gary Contessa's Rydilluc had the lead and appeared to have had the race won, but as the field moved further into the stretch, Palace Malice had overtaken the colt. Closing in on Todd Pletcher's Palace Malice was Leparoux and Java's War, who had moved from last to first and grabbed victory by a neck. Also moving sharply at the end along with Java's War was Pletcher's Charming Kitten, who finished a neck behind Palace Malice. Rydilluc finished fourth, 1 1/4 lengths behind the leaders.
"We didn't know coming into his three-year-old year whether he was a turf horse or a Polytrack horse, but obviously he's running over about anything we put him on," said McPeek. "That race at Tampa (second to Verrazano in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby Mar. 9) gave us the idea that, okay, we really do fit. Today's race was huge."
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