2018 Blue Grass Stakes Preview, Entries & Odds

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Keeneland Press Release | OTB Writer

Good Magic Is 2-1 Morning-Line Favorite 2018 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland

KEENELAND - E Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables' champion Good Magic, purchased for $1 million at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, was installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday's 94th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2).

A total of 15 3-year-olds, including one also-eligible, was entered Tuesday for the 1 1/8-mile main track test that serves as a major steppingstone to the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) to be run May 5 at Churchill Downs.

The Toyota Blue Grass offers 170 points toward qualification for this year's Derby with 100 going to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third place and 10 points to fourth. The Derby is limited to the top 20 point earners that pass the entry box and currently the cut line is 29 points.

The Toyota Blue Grass will go as the 10th race on Saturday's 11-race program with a 6:23 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.

2018 Blue Grass Stakes Odds & Entries

Race 10 on Keeneland's Saturday card with a Post Time of 6:23 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Zing Zang 30-1 Shaun Bridgmohan Steve Asmussen
2 Sporting Chance 10-1 Luis Saez D. Wayne Lukas
3 California Night 30-1 Tyler Gaffalione Mike Maker
4 Kanthaka 10-1 Julien Leparoux Jerry Hollendorfer
5 Quip 6-1 Florent Geroux Rodolphe Brisset
6 Marconi 15-1 Ryan Moore Todd Pletcher
7 Blended Citizen 15-1 Kyle Frey Doug O'Neill
8 Gotta Go 30-1 Ian Wilkes Chris Landeros
9 Tiz Mischief 30-1 Corey Lanerie Dale Romans
10 Free Drop Billy 5-1 Irad Ortiz Jr. Dale Romans
11 Good Magic 2-1 Jose Ortiz Chad Brown
12 Flameaway 6-1 Jose Lezcano Mark Casse
13 Machismo 20-1 Jake Radosevich Anthony Quartarolo
14 Arawak 30-1 Fernando de la Cruz Doug O'Neill

Trained by Chad Brown, Good Magic earned the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male of 2017 following his victory in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar.

In his lone 2018 race, Good Magic finished third in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park on March 3. Jose Ortiz has the mount on Good Magic, who will break from post position 11.

Second choice on the morning line at 5-1 is the Albaugh Family Stables' Free Drop Billy.

Trained by two-time Toyota Blue Grass winner Dale Romans, Free Drop Billy will try to join Romans' trainees Dullahan and Brody's Cause as victors in the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (G1) at 2 and the Toyota Blue Grass. The only other horses to accomplish the double were Round Table and Carpe Diem.

Free Drop Billy enters Saturday's race off a third-place finish in the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct on March 10. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount on Free Drop Billy and will break from post position 10.

Romans also will send out Frank Jones' Tiz Mischief. A maiden winner at Keeneland last fall, Tiz Mischief finished fifth in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) in his most recent start. Corey Lanerie has the mount on Tiz Mischief and will break from post position nine as a 30-1 morning-line proposition.

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Co-third choice on the morning line at 6-1 is Tampa Bay Derby winner Quip. Trained by Rodolphe Brisset and owned by the partnership of China Horse Club International, WinStar Farm and SF Racing, Quip has won three of four starts with one of those triumphs coming at Keeneland last fall. Florent Geroux has the mount on Quip, who will break from post position five.

Also at 6-1 on the morning line is John Oxley's Flameaway. Trained by Mark Casse, Flameaway was runner-up to Quip in his most recent start in the Tampa Bay Derby and prior to that won the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. Flameaway, winner of Keeneland's Dixiana Bourbon (G3) last fall, will break from post position 12 and be ridden by Jose Lezcano.

Four other trainers beside Romans will be trying to add to their Toyota Blue Grass victory totals.

Three-time winner Todd Pletcher will be represented by Marconi. Owned in partnership by Bridlewood Farm, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, Marconi is listed at 15-1 on the morning line. Ryan Moore has the mount and will break from post position six.

Two-time winner D. Wayne Lukas will send out Robert Baker and William Mack's Sporting Chance, winner of the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga. To be ridden by Luis Saez, Sporting Chance (10-1 on the morning line) will break from post position two. Lukas won the Toyota Blue Grass in 1987 with War and in 2000 with High Yield. Saez won the 2016 Toyota Blue Grass on Brody's Cause.

Doug O'Neill, whose Irap became the first maiden to win the Toyota Blue Grass last year, will try to become the third trainer to win the race in consecutive years when he sends out Greg Hall and SAYJAY Racing's Blended Citizen and R3 Racing, Steven Keh and C T R Stables' Arawak on Saturday.

Listed at 15-1 on the morning line, Blended Citizen won the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) in his most recent start at Turfway Park on March 17 with Arawak finishing third. Kyle Frey has the mount on Blended Citizen, who will break from post position seven, while Arawak (30-1) will break from post 14 under Fernando De La Cruz.

Other trainers to win the race in consecutive years are LeRoy Jolley with Honest Pleasure and For the Moment in 1976 and 1977, and Ben Jones with Faultless in 1947 and Coaltown in 1948.

Mike Maker, who sent out Stately Victor to post the biggest upset in race history with an $82.80 payoff in 2010, will saddle Three Diamonds Farm's California Night. A winner of two of three starts, California Night will break from post position three and be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione. California Night is 30-1 on the morning line.

In addition to Saez, Julien Leparoux will be trying to add to his Toyota Blue Grass victory total. Leparoux has the mount on West Point Thoroughbreds' Kanthaka. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Kanthaka is 10-1 on the morning line and will break from post position four.

Leparoux, who won last year's race on Irap, also will be trying to join six other riders to have won the race in consecutive years. Edgar Prado in 2002 and 2003 is the most recent jockey to accomplish the feat, joining Bill Shoemaker (twice), Eddie Arcaro, Pat Day, Shane Sellers and Mike Smith. Leparoux also won the 2013 renewal on Java's War.

The field for the Toyota Blue Grass, with riders and morning-line odds, from the rail out is: Zing Zang (Shaun Bridgmohan, 30-1), Sporting Chance (Saez, 10-1), California Night (Gaffalione, 30-1), Kanthaka (Leparoux, 10-1), Quip (Geroux, 6-1), Marconi (Moore, 15-1), Blended Citizen (Frey, 15-1), Gotta Go (Chris Landeros, 30-1), Tiz Mischief (Lanerie, 30-1), Free Drop Billy (Ortiz Jr., 5-1), Good Magic (Ortiz, 2-1), Flameaway (Lezcano, 6-1). Machismo (Jake Radosevich, 20-1) and Arawak (De La Cruz, 30-1). Also-Eligible: Determinant (Gaffalione, 20-1). All starters will carry 123 pounds.


Bobby Powell, consultant for Terry Green's Jackpot Farm, owner of Zing Zang; post 1; 30-1 in the morning line

"(Drawing the rail) is OK. We have a horse that's big, he needs to stay out of trouble. He's not going to be on the front end, so the rail will not bother us. Once he gets his momentum going, he needs to be out of trouble and have a clear path in front of him. Having the rail, going the first half-mile, it's not going to bother us at all."

Michael Hernon, Director of Sales for Gainesway Farm. Zing Zang was bred by Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd.

"He's a horse that gets into a rhythm. He'll come later in the race. It's a mile and an eighth; he's improving and if he gets a good trip, hopefully he'll be making a challenge at the furlong marker."

Christina Jelm, East Coast assistant for Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer of Kanthaka; post 4; 10-1

"Kanthaka has won previously from posts 3 and 5 and so we are quite pleased starting from position number 4. It's clear that our horse has a tremendous turn of foot and his versatility will allow (Jockey Julien) Leparoux to rate however necessary when the gates open."

Rodolphe Brisset, trainer of Quip; post 5; 6-1

"The horse trained here last year for six months, we already have a run here (an allowance win in October), and we know he likes the track. We got a good draw."

David Hanley, General Manager of WinStar Farm, breeder and co-owner of Quip

"I think (post five) is the perfect spot for him. He has plenty of speed out of the gate and should be able to sit himself in a good position out of there. He should get a position and be able to relax."

Jack Sisterson, assistant to Doug O'Neill, trainer of Blended Citizen and Arawak. Blended Citizen drew post 7; 15-1. Arawak drew post 14; 30-1

"(The post for) Blended Citizen is great. He shows no early speed so he's just going to break, play the break and get into his momentum. He'll be finishing up pretty strongly the last eighth of a mile, so we're not concerned with his post position. And Arawak drawing wide, we've had luck with Nyquist drawing 13 and I'll Have Another was 19 (when both won the Kentucky Derby), so the wide draw doesn't concern us. (Arawak is) going to have blinkers added on Saturday and he's got a good gate rider (Fernando De La Cruz), so he's going to be a lot more forwardly placed just to get a good position early so he's not too wide going into the first turn."

Ian Wilkes, trainer of Gotta Go, by phone from Ocala, Florida; post 8, 30-1

"Post eight is fine. No problem at all there. At least we are not down on the fence and not stuck on the far outside."

Dale Romans, trainer of Tiz Mischief and Free Drop Billy. Tiz Mischief drew post 9; 30-1. Free Drop Billy drew post 10; 5-1

"Those are good spots. In a 14-horse field, you worry about getting too far outside. And if you are too far inside, you can get (interfered with). They are sitting in perfect spots."

Chad Brown, trainer of Good Magic, via text; post 11, 2-1 favorite

"The post is slightly disappointing, but he's training very well."

Mike Ryan, representing e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, co-owner of Good Magic

"It's a bulky field; obviously (he'll need) a clean break, and a smooth trip is critical because there will be horses backing up. There will be traffic in the race with as large of a field as we have. He's good breaking, and he has tactical speed. I believe he can put himself in the race. Jose (Ortiz) knows him very well and hopefully he'll be in a nice stalking position going into the first turn and stay out of trouble."

David Carroll, assistant to trainer Mark Casse about Flameaway; post 12; 6-1

"The post is the post; he's a very experienced horse. He's won (the Dixiana Bourbon-G3) over the track (here). He'll be forwardly placed, and (jockey) Jose (Lezcano) knows the horse well and we're very happy with him. We'd obviously like to be drawn in a little bit more inside, but he won the Bourbon from this post. We're looking forward to the race. He shipped in yesterday and looks terrific and Mark's been very happy with him."

Anthony Quartarolo, trainer of Machismo; post 13, 20-1

"Not that happy with the post, but we'll see how we can overcome it. He has good gate speed, and the three speed (horses) inside are going to go. It's going to be a little bit of maneuvering (around the first turn) to try to get a good trip because everyone else is going to be looking for position. (In) a big field, the break is huge; gotta break clean, gotta get a clean trip and just hope everything works out."

Blended Citizen Passes Dirt Test for Toyota Blue Grass

Greg Hall and SAYJAY Racing's Blended Citizen, who has had much of his success on the grass and all-weather surfaces, prepared for his return to the dirt in next Saturday's $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) by working 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 over a fast main track this morning at Keeneland.

Blended Citizen and workmate Arawak began to ease into the work at the three-quarter pole and proceeded to post fractions of :13.60, :26.60 and 1:01.20 with a 6-furlong gallop-out time of 1:14.60. They completed a mile at the three-quarter pole in 1:41.

"That was very nice," trainer Doug O'Neill said. "I'm very happy with it. I thought they both worked very well and Arawak was very competitive with him."

O'Neill arrived at Keeneland with jockey Kyle Frey Saturday morning following an all-night drive from Atlanta, where they had missed a connecting flight to Lexington. O'Neill and Frey are returning to Santa Anita today and plan to return to Lexington on Friday, the day before the Toyota Blue Grass.

Blended Citizen made his first three starts on dirt with his best finish being fifth. Three grass starts came next and then two starts on all-weather surfaces, culminating with a victory in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park on March 17.

"Looking back at his form, I can find reasons for his dirt race performances," O'Neill said. "This is a horse that needs two turns and he is a half-brother to Lookin At Lee, who was second in the (Kentucky) Derby last year.

"In (Blended Citizen's) first start, he drew the rail at Del Mar sprinting, which is not what he wants to do. In his second start he was outside all the way but he did make up some ground. Then I brought him back too quick when I stretched him out two turns at Santa Anita and he was outside and never in it."

Frey, who never has ridden at Keeneland, has been aboard Blended Citizen in his past two races but had worked the Proud Citizen colt previously on dirt.

"I was very satisfied with him and he handled the track well," Frey said of the colt, who worked in blinkers that were added for the Jeff Ruby Steaks. "The addition of the blinkers made the light bulb come on."

Upon leaving the track, O'Neill asked Frey about the work and the rider answered with a question: "How are you going to spend your $60,000?" in reference to their share of the $600,000 that goes to the winner of the Toyota Blue Grass.

O'Neill said that Arawak, who has run on dirt three times in his nine-race career for previous trainer Wesley Ward, also could possibly wind up in the Toyota Blue Grass.

"We will play that by ear and get with the owners," said O'Neill, who won last year's Toyota Blue Grass with Irap. "If he does not go in the Blue Grass, he may go in the (Stonestreet) Lexington (G3 on April 14)."

Four other probable Toyota Blue Grass starters put in works in Florida Saturday morning.

Good Magic, the champion 2-year-old of 2017, worked at Palm Meadows for trainer Chad Brown, covering 4 furlongs in :48 in company. Good Magic is scheduled to ship to Keeneland Monday.

At Gulfstream Park, trainer Dale Romans, who will be seeking his third victory in the race, worked Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (G1) winnerFree Drop Billy (5 furlongs in 1:01.80) and Tiz Mischief (5 furlongs in 1:01.18). Another Toyota Blue Grass contender, Machismo worked 5 furlongs in :58.77 for trainer Anthony Quartarolo.

Working Friday at Palm Meadows for trainer Mark Casse were Flameaway (4 furlongs in :48.75) and Determinant (4 furlongs in :49.25). Both horses are scheduled to arrive at Keeneland on Monday.

Other probable Toyota Blue Grass starters are California Night, Gotta Go, Heartfullofstars, Quip, Sporting Chance and Zing Zang. Another possible starter is Kanthaka, who worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 at Santa Anita this morning.

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