Road to the Kentucky Derby: Analyzing the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes

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Todd Pletcher has a squadron of three in the race and Pletcher’s runners must always be considered. Divine Oath is the also-eligible looking to move up to the big leagues from the ranks of optional claimers and will attempt the route distance for the first time. Pletcher’s more likely runners with great potential are Sam Davis (G3) winner Vinceremos and Palm Beach (G3) winner Gala Award.

Vinceremos lost the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) to Ring Weekend last out. Having already secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby gate, Ring Weekend came back in an allowance race last week and was beaten in a surprising upset. Not sure what that says about Vinceremos ability, losing to Ring Weekend by three lengths in the Tampa Bay Derby. Still, he’s never finished worse than second and boasts Brisnet speed figures in the 90s. Edgar Prado has the mount aboard Vinceremos.

Gala Award’s three lifetime starts have come on the turf and at the longer distances of 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 miles. Although he lacks experience, it would seem he’s suited for the track and the Blue Grass’s 1 1/8 mile distance. He also gets jockey John Velazquez in the irons.

The longshot play in the race is Wesley Ward’s Pablo Del Monte at odds of 12-1. Although this will be the first time this Giant’s Causeway colt has attempted to race farther than a mile, he has two wins in two starts at Keeneland and finished third to Wildcat Red in the Hutcheson (G3) last time out. Although he’s coming off a two-month layoff, he’s been working at Keeneland the past month and has registered some sharp works. It would be surprising for him to win this race, but with so many other more recognizable runners, he’ll offer a good price and could boost the payoff on a superfecta.

Special note to all the UK fans: Longshot Casiguapo was bred through the University of Kentucky’s Equine Research Unit and helped students learn about breeding, foaling, and getting horses ready for the sales. Casiguapo was sold in the Fasig-Tipton sales as a yearling for $4,700. 

The field from the rail out, with odds, is: Asserting Bear 15-1, Extrasexyhippzster 15-1, Pablo Del Monte 12-1, Harry’s Holiday 10-1, Bobby’s Kitten 3-1, Coltimus Prime 20-1, Casiguapo 30-1, Dance With Fate 12-1, Big Bazinga 20-1, So Lonesome 50-1, Coastline 8-1, Vinceremos 8-1, Medal Count 9-2, Gala Award 5-1, Divine Oath 12-1.

The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes is the 11th race on Keeneland’s stakes-filled Saturday card with a scheduled post time of 5:45 p.m. EST. It can be seen on Fox Sports One (programming begins at 4:30 p.m and includes the Arkansas Derby), HRTV, and TVG. Free PPs provided by Brisnet.

Photo: Courtesy Keeneland

About Jessie Oswald
I'm a lifetime Louisville resident with a passion for horse racing. When I'm not working as an immigration paralegal or taking care of my family, I follow Thoroughbred racing and love to share the excitement and beauty of the sport with anyone willing to learn!
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