2024 Blue Grass Stakes Contenders at Keeneland

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Edited Keeneland Press Release
Updated: April 02, 2024

Blue Grass Stakes Awards 100-50-25-15-10 Qualifying Points for Kentucky Derby

Sierra Leone is the 2-1 morning line favorite in a field of 11 3-year-olds entered Tuesday for the 100th running of the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G1) on Saturday, April 6 at Keeneland.

Contested at 1 1/8 miles over the main track, the Toyota Blue Grass is the 10th race on Saturday's 11-race program with a 5:52 p.m. ET post time. First post Saturday is 1 p.m.

Trained by two-time Toyota Blue Grass winner Chad Brown, Sierra Leone comes into Saturday's race off a victory in the Risen Star (G2) run at 1 1/8 miles at Fair Grounds on Feb. 17. Sierra Leone has won two of three races and was second by a nose to Toyota Blue Grass rival Dornoch in the Remsen (G2).

Tyler Gaffalione has the mount on Sierra Leone and will exit post 10.

2024 Blue Grass Stakes Field & Odds

Race 10 at Keeneland on Saturday, April 6 - Post 5:52 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Top Conor 15-1 Jose Ortiz
123 Lbs
Chad Brown
2 Be You 8-1 Irad Ortiz, Jr.
123 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
3 Seize the Grey 20-1 Nik Juarez
123 Lbs
D. Lukas
4 Dornoch 3-1 Luis Saez
123 Lbs
Danny Gargan
5 Good Money 20-1 Javier Castellano
123 Lbs
Chad Brown
6 Just a Touch 7-2 Florent Geroux
123 Lbs
Brad Cox
7 Lat Long 30-1 Brian Hernandez, Jr.
123 Lbs
Kenneth McPeek
8 Epic Ride 20-1 Adam Beschizza
123 Lbs
John Ennis
9 Mugatu 30-1 Joseph Talamo
123 Lbs
Jeff Engler
10 Sierra Leone 2-1 Tyler Gaffalione
123 Lbs
Chad Brown
11 Encino 12-1 Flavien Prat
123 Lbs
Brad Cox

Brown's Toyota Blue Grass winners are Good Magic in 2018 and Zandon in 2022. Good Magic is the sire of Dornoch.

Brown has two other entrants in the race: Calumet Farm's Good Money (20-1) and Flanagan Racing's Top Conor (15-1).

Good Money has won one of two races and finished fourth in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G3) on March 9 in his most recent start. Javier Castellano, who won the 2019 Toyota Blue Grass on Vekoma, has the mount from post 5.

Top Conor has won his only race, going a mile at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 17. Top Conor will exit post 1 and be ridden by Jose Ortiz, who won the Toyota Blue Grass in 2018 on Good Magic.

West Paces Racing, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing and Pine Racing Stables' Dornoch, a full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Mage, is the second choice on the morning line at 3-1.

Trained by Danny Gargan, Dornoch enters Saturday's race off a front-running victory in the Coolmore Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream on March 2. Dornoch has won three consecutive races starting with his initial victory at Keeneland last fall going 1 1/16 miles. His second victory came by a nose over Toyota Blue Grass rival Sierra Leone in the Remsen last December going 1 1/8 miles.

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"That's a good spot," Gargan said. "He came out of the 3 hole in the Fountain of Youth and the Remsen. He will come out of there running and make his way through."

Three-time Toyota Blue Grass-winning rider Luis Saez has the mount on Dornoch and will attempt to join six other riders to have won the race in consecutive years. Saez won aboard Tapit Trice (2023), Essential Quality (2021) and Brody's Cause (2016). Dornoch drew post position 4.

Third choice on the morning line at 7-2 is Qatar Racing, Resolute Racing and Marc Detampel's Just a Touch, who has won one of two races and comes into Saturday's race off a runner-up effort in the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct March 2. Florent Geroux has the mount from post position 6.

Just a Touch is trained by Brad Cox, who won the Toyota Blue Grass in 2021 with Godolphin's Essential Quality. Cox has another Godolphin runner this year in Encino (10-1). A winner of two of three races over the all-weather surface at Turfway Park this winter, Encino enters Saturday's race off a victory in the John Battaglia Memorial (L) on March 2. Flavien Prat, who won the 2022 Toyota Blue Grass on Zandon, has the mount Saturday from post position 11.

Repole Stable's Be You, fourth choice on the morning line at 8-1, will attempt to give trainer Todd Pletcher back-to-back Toyota Blue Grass victories following Tapit Trice last year. Third in the American Pharoah (G1) and fourth in the Hopeful (G1) last year, Be You notched his first victory in six starts on March 2 at Gulfstream going 7 furlongs.

Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount on Be You from post 2 for Pletcher, whose other Toyota Blue Grass winners were Bandini (2005), Monba (2008) and Carpe Diem (2015).

"I'm happy with the post," Pletcher said via text.

Two trainers will seek to add to their victory ledger in the Toyota Blue Grass. Two-time winner Kenny McPeek will saddle Lat Long (30-1), and two-time winner D. Wayne Lukas will send out Seize the Grey (20-1).

Walking L Thoroughbreds' Lat Long, third in the Lecomte (G3) in his most recent start, will attempt to join Harlan's Holiday (2002) and Java's War (2013) as Toyota Blue Grass winners for McPeek. Brian Hernandez Jr., who won the 2020 Toyota Blue Grass aboard Art Collector, has the mount on Lat Long from post 7.

Lukas, who saddled War to victory in 1987 and High Yield in 2000, will be represented by MyRacehorse's Seize the Grey. Seize the Grey, who will be ridden by Nik Juarez and break from post 3, enters Saturday's race off a third-place finish in Turfway's Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on March 23.

The Toyota Blue Grass offers 200 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby on a 100-50-25-15-10 scale to the first- through fifth-place finishers. The 150th running of the $5 million Kentucky Derby, to be run May 4 at Churchill Downs, is limited to the top 20 point earners and invitees.

Pre-Draw News

2024 Blue Grass Stakes Draws 108 Nominees

Keeneland's $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1), an iconic springtime fixture for 3-year-olds, will be especially meaningful when it is run April 6 on opening Saturday of the Spring Meet.

The renewal marks the 100th running of the 1 1/8-mile race, which has attracted 108 nominees led by champion Fierceness and Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (G1) winner Locked - both trained by four-time winner Todd Pletcher - and Sierra Leone, winner of last Saturday's Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds for two-time winning trainer Chad Brown.

The Toyota Blue Grass is the 10th race with a 5:48 p.m. post. The race will be streamed live for OTB members on the OffTrackBetting.com webiste and the OTB App.

Post positions for the Blue Grass and all other races on April 6 and April 7 will be drawn on Tuesday, April 2.

"This is an exciting time at Keeneland with the major construction project underway to build for our future," Keeneland Racecourse Vice President of Racing Gatewood Bell said, "so it is fitting that we also are holding the 100th running of our most famous race and recognizing our history. We thank the owners and trainers who have nominated a quality group of 3-year-olds to the Blue Grass, which has produced a long list of horses who won major races and became important stallions."

On April 6, the Toyota Blue Grass is one of five graded stakes worth a combined $2.65 million to be run on Keeneland's 11-race card, which has a first post time of 1 p.m. ET. Other stakes that day are the 23rd running of the $600,000 Madison (G1) for fillies and mares going 7 furlongs on the dirt; the 36th running of the $400,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association for 3-year-old fillies racing 1 mile on the turf; the 28th running of the $350,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and the 37th running of the $300,000 Commonwealth (G3) for 4-year-olds and up going 7 furlongs on the dirt.

Horse Racing Rebates

The winner of the Toyota Blue Grass will earn 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, while the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers receive 50, 25, 15 and 10 points, respectively.

In total, 19 of the top 20 point earners toward the 150th running of the $5 million Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 4 are nominated to the Toyota Blue Grass.

Repole Stable's homebred Fierceness earned the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male of 2023 with a 6¼-length victory in the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance in November at Santa Anita. In his 2024 debut, Fierceness was third in the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 3.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Walmac Farm's Locked finished third as the favorite behind Fierceness in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Prior to that, Locked overcame a wide trip to prevail in the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity.

Pletcher won the Toyota Blue Grass with Bandini (2005), Monba (2008), Carpe Diem (2015) and Tapit Trice (2023). He leads all trainers with 18 horses nominated to this year's race.

Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg, Rocket Ship Racing and Peter Brant's Sierra Leone rallied to post a half-length victory in last Saturday's Risen Star in his 2024 debut. After the race, Brown indicated the Toyota Blue Grass would be the next start for Sierra Leone. In 2022, Brown used the same schedule for Zandon, who won the Toyota Blue Grass after racing in the Risen Star. Brown first won the Toyota Blue Grass in 2018 with Good Magic.

Two other Grade 1 winners are among the 2024 nominees: Zedan Racing Stables' Muth and WinStar Farm and Siena Farm's Timberlake.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Muth won the American Pharoah (G1) and the San Vicente (G2). He finished second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile behind Fierceness.

Brad Cox trains Timberlake, who won the Champagne (G1) and was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Other prominent Toyota Blue Grass nominees include Albaugh Family Stables' Catching Freedom, winner of the Smarty Jones (L); West Paces Racing, R. A. Hill Stable, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Two Eight Racing and Pine Racing Stables' Dornoch, winner of the Remsen (G2) and a full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage; D. J. Stable and Robert Cotran's Hades, winner of the Holy Bull (G3); Ribble Farms' Honor Marie, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2); Stephen and Evan Ferraro's Liberal Arts, winner of the Street Sense (G3); Morplay Racing's No More Time, winner of the Sam F. Davis (G3); Baoma Corporation's Nysos, winner of the Robert B. Lewis (G3) and the Bob Hope (G3); Sharon and Rick Walker's Stronghold, winner of the Sunland Park Derby (G3); L and N Racing, Clark Brewster, Jerry Caroom and Breeze Easy's Track Phantom, winner of the Lecomte (G3) and runner-up in the Risen Star; Milan Racing Stables' Uncle Heavy, winner of the Withers (G3); and Harry Veruchi's West Saratoga, winner of the Iroquois (G3).

The first 12 runnings of the Blue Grass were held at the Kentucky Association track, which was located near downtown Lexington and operated from 1828-1933. The race was held there in 1911-1914 and 1919-1926. The inaugural winner was Governor Gray, who finished a half-length in front of Meridian; the two returned three days later in the Kentucky Derby with Meridian winning by three-quarters of a length over favored Governor Gray.

Second-place Blue Grass finishers Donerail (1913) and Behave Yourself (1921) next captured the Kentucky Derby. In 1926, Bubbling Over became the first Blue Grass-Derby winner.

With the closure of the Kentucky Association track, the Blue Grass was resumed at Keeneland in April 1937 during the track's first Spring Meet of 11 days. Since then, the stakes has been won by such Racing Hall of Famers as Bimelech (1940), Coaltown (1948), Round Table (1957), Northern Dancer (1964), Arts and Letters (1969), Riva Ridge (1972), Alydar (1978), Spectacular Bid (1979), Holy Bull (1994) and Skip Away (1996).

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