Charles Fipke’s homebred Java’s War
overcame a slow start to catch Palace Malice in the final yards to win the 89th
running of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) by a neck before a
crowd of 37,161 on a bright Saturday afternoon at Keeneland.
Saturday’s attendance is the second largest in track history,
surpassed only by the 40,617 on hand for last year’s Toyota Blue Grass
It was trainer Ken McPeek’s second victory in the race, having won
the 2002 edition with Harlan’s Holiday. It was the first Toyota Blue
Grass victory for jockey Julien Leparoux.
Java’s War, a homebred son of War Pass out of the Rainbow Quest mare
Java (GB), completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.27 over the fast main
In addition to the $450,000 winner’s check, Java’s War received 100 qualifying points toward the 139th
running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1)
on May 4 at Churchill Downs. Now with 122 points, Java’s War is
guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, that is limited
to the top 20 point earners that pass the entry box.
Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice picked up 40 points for running second
to boost his total to 50, which should be enough to make the Derby
Java’s War improved his career record to 7-3-1-1 and increased his earnings to $672,091.
Favored Rydilluc, breaking from post position 13 under Edgar Prado,
and Undrafted jockeyed for the lead the first time past the finish line
as Java’s War was last in the field of 14 after walking out of the gate.
After a first quarter-mile in :23.81 from Undrafted, Prado put
Rydilluc on the lead and opened a daylight margin with internal
fractions of :48.04 and 1:12.76.
Meanwhile, behind Rydilluc, Palace Malice was getting a dream run
under Garrett Gomez. Palace Malice slipped inside of a tiring Undrafted
and turned into the stretch with a clear shot at Rydilluc. At that
juncture, Leparoux had Java’s War moving widest of all and began picking
Palace Malice finally put Rydilluc away past the eighth pole and just
failed to hold off Java’s War. Charming Kitten closed fast to finish
third, another neck back.
Java’s War returned mutuels of $11.20, $5.60 and $4. Palace Malice
paid $6 and $4.60 with Charming Kitten, ridden by Joe Bravo, returning
$11.20 to show.
Rydilluc finished 1¼ lengths back in fourth and was followed in order
by Fear the Kitten, Balance the Books, My Name Is Michael, Channel
Isle, Dynamic Sky, Uncaptured, Tesseron, West Hills Giant, Undrafted and