Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily – Day 24
The field was drawn today for Keeneland’s historic Blue Grass Stakes with 12 three-year-old colts entering to run for the winner’s share of the $750,000 in the traditional Kentucky Derby prep. Heading the field will be last fall’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes winner, Santiva. The bay colt is trained by Eddie Kenneally and will be ridden by Eclipse Award winning jockey, Julien Leparoux. In his only start of 2011, Santiva finished a solid second to Mucho Macho Man in the Fair Grounds’ Risen Star Stakes back on February 19. He will break from the number 3 post and has been installed as the 3-1 morning line choice.
Others lining up to tackle Santiva in the 1 1/8 mile race over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface include the 5-1 morning line second choice, King Congie. Trained by Tom Albertrani, the son of Badge of Silver has earned his reputation with three consecutive excellent performances on the grass including a stakes win in the Tropical Park Derby. The Blue Grass will mark his first try on a synthetic surface, but Keeneland’s main course often plays friendly to turf horses.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has already won the Blue Grass twice in the past six runnings with Bandini and Momba, will have three chances for the win with the celebrity chef, Bobby Flay owned Sensational Slam, the recent maiden winner Praetereo, and the Canadian bred Queen’splatekitten, who will break from the far outside with jockey John Velazquez.
Others expected to draw support at the windows include Wilkinson, a Neil Howard trained son of who Lemon Drop Kid, who accounted for the Lecomte Stakes this winter, and Brilliant Speed, who like King Congie enters with solid turf form. Both colts are listed as 6-1 co-third choices on the morning line.
The field is rounded out by Mike Maker’s pair of Twinspired and Joes Blazing Aaron, Newsdad, Willcox Inn, and Crimson China.
Twelve horses are entered and each of them has a chance to win, and throwing any single horse out in this field could be a mistake. On paper Santiva (#11 on HRN's 2011 Kentucky Derby Contenders) would seem to have an obvious class advantage over his competition. He ran well in his only trip at Keeneland when he finished 2nd in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity last October, and he is the only horse in the field considered to be a major contender for this year’s Kentucky Derby. Being considered the horse to beat has not meant much in recent editions of the Blue Grass though. Upsets in the Blue Grass have become the norm, and that was bore out last year when the Mike Maker trained Stately Victor scored at odds of 40-1.