“Java’s War came out of Blue Grass fine. Trainer is exhausted. Thank
You for opportunity Mr Fipke. Special winning in my home town Lexington”
So tweeted trainer Ken McPeek on Sunday morning about the victory by Charles Fipke’s homebred Java’s War
in Saturday’s $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) before 37,161
fans, the second-largest crowd in Keeneland history. With Julien
Leparoux aboard, the War Pass colt charged from last place to catch
Palace Malice near the finish of the 1 1/8-mile race and win by a neck.
McPeek scored his second win in the race, joining Harlan’s Holiday in
2002. Leparoux earned his first Toyota Blue Grass victory and his
second Grade 1 win of the card, following Centre Court’s triumph in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1).
Java’s War earned 100 points toward qualification to the Kentucky
Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) on May 4 at Churchill Downs. He has a
total of 122 points to rank fourth on the list of leading
point-earners, following Orb (150), Verrazano (150) and Goldencents
Less than an hour after Java’s War’s performance, McPeek watched Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Frac Daddy finish second to Overanalyze
in the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park. He tweeted: “Frac Daddy
punches his ticket too. Proud of his effort We knew he had it in him. I
was born in Arkansas so that race is on my bucket list”
For the performance, Frac Daddy earned 40 points and is 15th on the list of leading point earners for the Kentucky Derby.
The field of 14 in this year’s Toyota Blue Grass equaled the largest
fields in history, in 1954 and 1974. On Sunday morning, the trainers or
assistant trainers of other entrants stabled at Keeneland reported their
horses came out of the race in good order.
Beaten favorite Rydilluc, who finished fourth after
leading the field to deep stretch, came out of the race fine, according
to Edward Fernandez, assistant to trainer Gary Contessa.
“He is good this morning. He ran a big race and only got beat less
than two lengths,” Fernandez said. “He will stay here until probably
later this week and then go to New York.”
Trainer Chad Brown said Balance the Books was fine the morning after his fifth-place finish.
“He got a perfect trip,” Brown said. “He didn’t have any excuses. He
put in a decent run midway through the race. He just wasn’t good
Brown said Balance the Books and Samitar (GB), third in the Jenny Wiley, would return to New York today with future races undetermined.
Seventh-place finisher My Name Is Michael came out of the race well, said Rodolphe Brisset, assistant to trainer Bill Mott.
“We now have a new assignment,” trainer Mark Casse said of the John Oxley-owned duo of Dynamic Sky and Uncaptured, who finished ninth and 10th,
respectively. “They are both Queen’s Plate horses and we can
concentrate on that now. There is a million dollars out there to run
The Queen’s Plate, for Canadian-bred three-year-olds, is a $1 million race slated for July 7 at Woodbine going 1¼ miles.
Casse said both colts came out of the race fine.
“The only thing that was hurt was their pride -- and ours,” Casse
said with a chuckle. “Dynamic Sky will go to Woodbine, but I am not sure
about Uncaptured. I thought Uncaptured had the perfect trip and Miguel
(Mena) had him right where he needed to be.
“But Uncaptured ran so well in his first start back (a runner-up
finish in the Grade 3 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral Stakes
on March 23 at Turfway Park) that I was concerned he might regress a
little bit. That might have been part of it.”
“We were there. We gave it a try and now we go on to the next one,” trainer Josie Carroll said about 11th-place finisher Tesseron.
She said Tesseron was fine the morning after the race and would return
to her Woodbine base. The Kentucky-bred isn’t eligible for the Queen’s
Plate, which is restricted to Canadian-breds, “but there are other races
for him,” Carroll said.
Trainer John Terranova said 12th-place finisher West Hills Giant came out of the race fine and would be headed back to New York.
“He was hung wide most of the way and (jockey) Jose (Espinoza) said
he didn’t handle the track well,” Terranova said. “He said when he asked
him to run, he just kind of floundered on it.”
The day was not a total blank for Terranova as his Falling Sky
finished fourth, less than a length out of second, in the Arkansas
Derby (G1) and picked up 10 points toward the Kentucky Derby. Falling
Sky has accumulated 30 points, which might be enough to earn a spot in
the 20-horse starting gate.
“I thought he ran a great race and it looked like the distance got to
him a little bit at the end,” Terranova said. “I thought Martin
(Garcia) rode him perfect. He will fly back to Churchill Downs today. We
will go over it (the Derby) with the partners in the next few days.”
Trainer Wesley Ward said he likely would give Undrafted some time off following his 13th-place
finish and that he and Gatewood Bell, racing manager for owner Wes
Welker, would get together to determine the gelding’s next race.
Footbridge, who finished 14th, is scheduled to return to California, according to trainer Eoin Harty.
“We are going to regroup and figure out why he ran the way he did,”
Harty said. “He looked comfortable and was moving well, but when the
real running started he went backward.”