Second choice on the morning line at odds of 4-1 is Kenny McPeek’s Java’s War. This War Pass colt finished sixth to Uncaptured in the Kentucky Jockey Club last year, but started his sophomore season with a place finish behind likely Kentucky Derby favorite, Verrazano, in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Java’s War earned a 97 Brisnet speed figure in that performance which ties Palace Malice for the best speed in the last start among the Blue Grass Stakes contenders. Julien Leparoux has the mount and will ride Java’s War for the first time.
Trainer Gary Contessa enters Palm Beach (G3) winner Rydilluc, the co-second choice in the field at odds of 4-1. Since trying the grass, this Medaglia d’Oro colt is undefeated in three consecutive turf starts. As Keeneland’s Polytrack tends to equate best to turf, Rydilluc should perform well over the surface. A first or second place finish in Saturday’s Blue Grass would take Contessa to the Kentucky Derby starting gate for the first time.
“We wouldn’t be at the Blue Grass if we weren’t thinking (Kentucky) Derby,” said Contessa. “So, if he runs one-two, we are going to the Derby. You know, God willing, he’s healthy and sound, we are going to the Derby and I would be very confident in him in going into the Derby. I think he trains as well on dirt as he does on ‘Poly,’ and he’s training unbelievable on the Polytrack and he trains that well on turf.”
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