G1 Toyota Blue Grass Attracts 108 Nominees

February 21, 2024

Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Locked is among the Blue Grass nominees (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)

Keeneland Press Release

LEXINGTON, Ky.— Keeneland’s $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (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.

Click here for the list of the Toyota Blue Grass nominees; click here for their past performances.

“This is an exciting time at Keeneland with the major construction project underway to build for our future,” Keeneland 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.

The Toyota Blue Grass is the 10th race with a 5:48 p.m. post. The race will be streamed live and at no charge on Keeneland.com, and fans can tune into live, onsite coverage on FanDuel TV.

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) Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 4 are nominated to the Toyota Blue Grass.

Fierceness Juvenile Santa Anita 11 3 2023 (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Fierceness takes the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in dominant fashion (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

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).

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