Toyota Blue Grass Facts and Figures

April 9, 2022

Nest Could Be A Star In The Making; Undefeated Sy Dog Might Head To Royal Ascot; Brinkman Has Big Plans Old Homestead 

LESINGTON, Ky.—Lucky Seven Stable’s Smile Happy is the 9-5 morning-line choice in a field of 12 3-year-olds entered in today’s 98th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G1) going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. 

$1 million purse: The purse of this year’s Toyota Blue Grass has been restored to $1 million. The race also was worth $1 million in 2015-2019. 

Kentucky Derby points: The winner of the Toyota Blue Grass earns 100 points as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, a points-based system with a series of key races offering escalating points to determine which horses will compete in the 148th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 7. 

The second-place finisher in the Toyota Blue Grass earns 40 points, followed by 20 points to the third-place finisher and 10 points to the fourth-place finisher. 

History: The Blue Grass was named for the famous Bluegrass region of Central Kentucky and held in 1911-1914 and 1919-1926 at the old Kentucky Association track near downtown Lexington. Second-place finishers Meridian (1911), Donerail (1913) and Behave Yourself (1921) went on to win the Kentucky Derby. The 1926 winner, Bubbling Over, became the first horse to win the Blue Grass and the Kentucky Derby. 

With the closure of the Kentucky Association track, a group of prominent area Thoroughbred breeders went to work to return racing to Lexington. In 1935, they founded the Keeneland Association, purchased land from horseman J.O. “Jack” Keene and set out to open a model race track. Keeneland opened on Oct. 15, 1936, for nine days of racing. In April 1937, Keeneland held its inaugural Spring Meet of 11 days and ran the Blue Grass for the first time. 

The winner of the first Blue Grass at Keeneland was Maxwell Howard’s Fencing, who won by three- quarters of a length over Col. E.R. Bradley’s favored duo of Billionaire and Brooklyn, who finished noses apart for second. Nine days later at Churchill Downs, Fencing and Billionaire raced back in the Kentucky Derby, inaugurating a pattern that future Derby hopefuls would follow. 

Blue Grass-Kentucky Derby connection: Ten winners of the Blue Grass at Keeneland have won the Kentucky Derby. Nineteen horses who ran in the race at Keeneland returned to win the Derby. 

Post positions: Here are the post positions and the number of Toyota Blue Grass winners each post position has produced since 1937 (the race was run in two divisions in 1951):

Post No. of Winners 
1 – Thirteen 
2 – Twelve 
3 – Eleven

4 – Fifteen (Essential Quality, 2021) 
5 – Eleven

6 – Seven

7 – Three

8 – Six

9 – Two 
10 – Three 

11 – Two 

12 – None

13 – One (Goyamo, 1954) 

14 – None 

Wagering records on Toyota Blue Grass Day:
$25,809,200 on the 11-race 2019 Toyota Blue Grass card. (All-time record for Spring Meet.) 

On-track: $2,968,451 from the 2012 Toyota Blue Grass. (All-time record for Spring Meet.) 

Shortest-priced favorite 
to win: Spectacular Bid (1979), who went off at .05-1 (1-20). He paid $2.10. 

Longest shot to win: Stately Victor (2010), who went off at 40.10-1. He paid $82.20. Most recent post-time favorite to win: Essential Quality, who won in 2021 at 2-5. 

Largest margin of victory: The largest margin of victory was turned in by Arts and Letters, who won the 1969 race by 15 lengths. He was followed by Alydar (13-length winner in 1978) and Sinister Minister (123⁄4-length winner in 2006). 

Fastest times: The stakes record is 1:47 1/5, set by Skip Away in 1996. The track record for
1 1/8 miles is 1:47.75 set by 5-year-old Noble Bird when he won the Hagyard Fayette (G2) on Oct. 29, 2016. 

Maiden winner: Commandperformance is bidding to become the second maiden to win. In 2017, Irap became the first maiden to win. He paid $64.60 to win. 

Geldings: Trademark is bidding to become the seventh gelding to win. The others: Fencing (1937), Ruhe (1951, 2nd div.), Rockhill Native (1980), Bachelor Beau (1986), Prairie Bayou (1993) and Dominican (2007). 

Keeneland sales representatives: Ten of the 12 entrants are graduates of Keeneland sales. 3 

Blackadder, a $620,000 purchase at the 2020 September Yearling Sale. Consignor: Stone Farm. Buyer: Donato Lanni, agent for SF/Starlight/Madaket. 

Commandperformance, a $220,000 purchase at the 2020 September Sale. Consignor: James M. Herbener Jr., agent. Buyer: St. Elias Stables. 

Emmanuel, a $350,000 purchase at the 2020 September Sale. Consignor: Gainesway, agent. Buyer: Maverick Racing. 

Ethereal Road, a $90,000 purchase at the 2020 September Sale. Consignor: Lane’s End, agent. Buyer: Wingardium Leviosa. 

Golden Glider, a $395,000 purchase as a weanling at the 2019 November Breeding Stock Sale. Consignor: Nursery Place, agent. Buyer: Justin Casse, agent. 

Rattle N Roll is a graduate of two sales. $55,000 purchase as a weanling at the 2019 November Sale. Consignor: Select Sales, agent. Buyer: Rexy Bloodstock. $210,000 purchase at the 2020 September Sale. Consignor: Paramount Sales, agent. Buyer: Kenneth McPeek, agent. 

Smile Happy, a $175,000 purchase as a weanling at the 2019 November Sale. Consignor: Moreau Bloodstock Int’l. Buyer: Cooper Bloodstock. 

Trademark is a graduate of two sales. $37,000 purchase as a weanling at the 2019 November Sale. Consignor: Brereton C. Jones/Airdrie Stud, agent. Buyer: Rosetown Bloodstock. $42,000 purchase at the 2020 September Sale. Consignor: Eaton Sales, agent. Buyer: BBN Racing. 

Volcanic, a $230,000 purchase at the 2020 September Sale. Consignor: South Point Sales Agency, agent. Buyer: Breeze Easy.

Zandon, a $170,000 purchase at the 2020 September Sale. Consignor: Brereton C. Jones/Airdrie Stud, agent. Buyer: Mike Ryan, agent. 


These stallions already have sired winners of the race:
Curlin (Fenwick) is the sire of 2018 winner Good Magic.
Ghostzapper (Golden Glider) is the sire of 2010 winner Stately Victor.

Pulpit, who won the race in 1997, is the broodmare sire of Blackadder and Volcanic.
Joining Upstart as stallions with two offspring in the 2022 race is Quality Road, sire of Blackadder 

and Ethereal Road

Former Kentucky Gov. Brereton C. Jones bred two starters: Trademark and Zandon. Both are by Upstart, who stands at Jones’ Airdrie Stud in Midway, Kentucky, and both are out of mares by another Airdrie stallion, Creative Cause. 

Michael J. Mackin’s Lucky Seven Stable owns two starters: Rattle N Roll and Smile Happy.

WinStar Farm, who owns Emmanuel in partnership with Siena Farm, won the race in 2015 with Carpe Diem (owned in partnership with Stonestreet Stables). 


Todd Pletcher is bidding to become the seventh trainer to win the Blue Grass and Ashland in the same year. He won Friday’s Central Bank Ashland (G1) with Nest and is saddling Commandperformance and Emmanuel in the Toyota Blue Grass. 

Trainers who have swept the Blue Grass and Ashland in the same year are: 

·  Ben Jones in 1948 (Coaltown and Bewitch

·  Woody Stephens in 1949 (Halt and Tall Weeds

·  George Poole in 1971 (Impetuosity and You All

·  LeRoy Jolley in 1976 (Honest Pleasure and Optimistic Gal

·  D. Wayne Lukas in 1987 (War and Chic Shirine

·  Kenny McPeek in 2002 (Harlan’s Holiday and Take Charge Lady

Pletcher has three wins: Bandini (2005), Monba (2008) and Carpe Diem (2015).
McPeek (Rattle N RollSmile Happy) has two wins: Harlan’s Holiday (2002) and Java’s War 

Lukas (Ethereal Road) has two wins: War (1987), High Yield (2000). Other trainers who have won the race are: 

Chad Brown (Zandon), who won with Good Magic (2018).
Sending out their first starters are Rodolphe Brisset (Blackadder) and Kevin McKathan (Fenwick). 


Irad Ortiz Jr is bidding to become the seventh rider to win the Blue Grass and Ashland in the same year. He won Friday’s Central Bank Ashland (G1) on Nest and is riding Commandperformance in the Toyota Blue Grass. The most recent jockey to have completed the double is Mike Smith in 1994 aboard Holy Bull (Blue Grass) and Inside Information (Ashland). 

Rafael Bejarano (Trademark) won the race on Dominican (2007).
Brian Hernandez Jr. (Rattle N Roll) won the race on Art Collector (2020).
Luis Saez (Emmanuel) won the race on Brody’s Cause (2016) and Essential Quality (2021). 

Riding in the race for the first time is Adam Beschizza (Volcanic). 

Central Bank Ashland Winner Nest Could Be A Star In The Making 

A week before eventual champion Malathaat won the 2021 Kentucky Oaks (G1), trainer Todd 

Pletcher said without hesitation, “She’s a star.” 

On Friday at Keeneland, Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House’s Nest showed she could be a star in the making as she romped to an 81⁄4-length victory in the Central Bank Ashland (G1), the same race Malathaat used as a final prep for the Kentucky Oaks. 

“She looked like a star yesterday,” Pletcher said Saturday morning. “You never expect to win by 81⁄4 lengths, but we felt good about the way she was coming into the race.” 

Pletcher possibly could add another Oaks starter today when Classy Edition runs in the Gazelle (G3) at Aqueduct. A top two finish would give Classy Edition enough points to vault into the top 14 on the Oaks leaderboard. Like the Central Bank Ashland, the Gazelle offers 170 points toward the Oaks on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the first- through fourth-place finishers. 

The Oaks is limited to the top 14 point earners that pass the entry box. Pletcher has Goddess of Fire (62 points) and Shahama (50) in the top 14. 

“Those two fillies are at Palm Beach Downs (training center in Florida),” said Pletcher, who also has Kentucky Derby hopefuls Charge It and Pioneer of Medina there. “We will see how things shake out today with the (Toyota) Blue Grass, Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby and then look to consolidate the horses at Churchill Downs in time to give them a couple of works over the track.” 

Pletcher has two entrants in today’s Toyota Blue Grass – Emmanuel and Commandperformance – as well as a trio of entrants in the Wood Memorial (G2) Presented by Resorts World Casino in Mo DonegalGolden Code and Long Term

Also likely to head to Churchill Downs are Whisper Hill Farm’s Grand Sonata, runner-up in yesterday’s Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3), and Robert and Lawana Low’s My Prankster, fourth in the Lafayette. 

Pletcher said Kentucky Derby Day stakes would be under consideration for both colts: the $500,000 American Turf (G2) for Grand Sonata and the $500,000 Pat Day Mile (G2) Presented by LG&E and KU for My Prankster. 

Undefeated Kentucky Utilities Transylvania Winner Sy Dog Might Head To Royal Ascot 

Head of Plains Partners’ Sy Dog, who ran his undefeated racing record to three with a last-to-first triumph in the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3) Friday afternoon, might have international travel in his summer plans. 

Trainer Graham Motion indicated Saturday morning that a trip to Royal Ascot in England in June might be under consideration with the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs on May 7 deemed a possibility. 

Making his first start in four months, Sy Dog swept to the lead in the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania at eighth pole and went on to win by three-quarters of a length. 

Brinkman Has Big Plans For Lafayette Winner Old Homestead 

Trainer Brett Brinkman came to Keeneland this week from Louisiana with hopes of grabbing a stakes victory or two. 

Thanks to Old Homestead, he has one win in his pocket thanks to a 33⁄4-length triumph in Friday’s $400,000 Lafayette. Brinkman’s hope for a second victory rides with Cilla in this afternoon’s $500,000 Madison (G1). 

Owned by Marablue Farm and Pegasus Stud, Old Homestead has won his three career starts by a combined 21 lengths. His first two victories came at Delta Downs going 5 furlongs and then he won the 7-furlong Lafayette. 

“The Pat Day Mile (G2) is under consideration,” Brinkman said of the $500,000 race at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, May 7. “He will stay here until at least the middle of May.

“I’m planning now for the summer and I’d like to get one more race before Saratoga and look at a race maybe like the Amsterdam (G2).” 

Work Tab 

Two colts under consideration for next Saturday’s $400,000 Stonestreet Lexington (G3), In Due Time and Call Me Midnight, this morning turned in half-mile works over a sealed track rated as good. 

Edge Racing, Medallion Racing and Parkland Thoroughbreds’ In Due Time, runner-up in the Fountain of Youth (G2) in his most recent start, worked a half-mile in :52 with Paco Lopez aboard for trainer Kelly Breen. 

Peter Cantrell and Benjamin Gase’s Call Me Midnight, winner of the Lecomte (G3), worked a half- mile in :49.60 for trainer Keith Desormeaux. 

Galloping Out 

Mark Palmer, whose Ikhana Farm bred and raced Imogene Malvina to win the sixth race on Friday’s opening day, has a unique connection to Thoroughbred racing. He is the grandson of renowned Turf writer Joe Palmer. Ignacio Correas IV trains Imogene Malvina, a 3-year-old Tapiture filly ridden by Jose Ortiz to a maiden victory at 21-1 odds. 

Prospective Fields For April 15-16 Stakes 

According to Keeneland Stakes Coordinator Baley Hare, here are the prospective fields for the April 15 and 16 stakes: 

April 15 race. Entries taken Sunday. 

$600,000 MAKER’S MARK MILE (G1) – Atone (trainer Mike Maker), Beyond Brilliant (John Shirreffs), In Love (BRZ) (Paulo Lobo), Ivar (BRZ) (Lobo), Masen (GB) (Chad Brown), Public Sector (Brown), Set Piece (GB) (Brad Cox), Somelikeithotbrown (Maker). 

$200,000 TVG LIMESTONE (L) – Derrynane (Christophe Clement), Lost My Sock (Derek Ryan), Sin City Gal (Robertino Diodoro), Thunder Love (GB) (Paulo Lobo). Possible: Unbridled Mary (John Sadler). 

April 16 races. Entries taken Wednesday. 

$500,000 JENNY WILEY (G1) – Abscond (Eddie Kenneally), Navratilova (Rusty Arnold), Regal Glory (Chad Brown), Shantisara (IRE) (Brown), Waliyak (FR) (Edward Vaughan). Possible: Alms (Mike Stidham). 

$400,000 STONESTREET LEXINGTON (G3) – Bye Bye Bobby (Todd Fincher), In Due Time (Kelly Breen), Major General (Todd Pletcher), Strava (Dallas Stewart). Possible: Call Me Midnight (Keith Desormeaux), Dash Attack (Kenny McPeek), The Skipper Too (John Ortiz). 

$200,000 GIANT’S CAUSEWAY (L) – A G Indy (Todd Pletcher), Ambassador Luna (Ben Colebrook), Caravel (Brad Cox), Campanelle (IRE) (Wesley Ward), Change of Control (Michelle Lovell), Elle Z (Chris Hartman), Headline Hunter (Jose D’Angelo), Hear My Prayer (Vladimir Cerin), Jouster (Pletcher), Social Chatter (Vicki Oliver). 

Keeneland Barn Notes
Essential Quality, 2021 Toyota Blue Grass winner. (Coady Photography)

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