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The End of a Blue Grass Era

 

The 2014 Blue Grass Stakes was run for the final time over the Polytrack surface at Keeneland Race Course. Keeneland recently announced that following the 2014 spring meet they will be replacing Polytrack with a state of the art dirt surface. Synthetic surfaces seemed to be the wave of the future for race tracks in the early 2000’s . Premier race tracks like Del Mar, Santa Anita, and Arlington Park, among others, all installed some form of an artificial track. Keeneland was at the forefront of this trend when they switched to Polytrack back in 2006. 

For the past eight years, Keeneland’s premier race, the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) has been run on Polytrack.  The Blue Grass is no longer regarded as one of the more important preps for the Kentucky Derby.  Although, Street Sense did win the Kentucky Derby in 2007 after running 2nd to Dominican in the Blue Grass, the past winners of the Blue Grass have made little impact in the Kentucky Derby.

2008 Blue Grass Winner – Monba – Derby Finish 20th, Odds – 31/1

2009 Blue Grass Winner – General Quarters – Derby Finish 10th, Odds - 10/1

2010 Blue Grass Winner – Stately Victor – Derby Finish 8th, Odds – 20/1

2011 Blue Grass Winner – Brilliant Speed – Derby Finish 7th, Odds – 27/1

2012 Blue Grass Winner – Dullahan – Derby Finish 3rd, Odds – 12/1

2013 Blue Grass Winner – Java’s War – Derby Finish 13th, Odds – 21/1 

2014 Blue Grass victor, Dance with Fate might try to buck the trend for trainer Peter Eurton and jockey Corey Nakatani. The son of Two Step Salsa came into the Blue Grass looking for his first graded stakes win having been the bridesmaid in his other three attempts, (G1 Del Mar Futurity – 2nd) (G1 Front Runner Stakes – 2nd) (G3 El Camino Real Derby – 2nd.) He didn’t disappoint his connections. Sent off at odds of 6/1, Dance with Fate made a bold move at the top of the stretch under Nakatani to sweep past pace setter, Pablo Del Monte and hold off the charge of Medal Count to score his first graded stakes victory in the $750,000 Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Dance with Fate stamped his ticket to Louisville and insured his position in the starting gate (if his connections see fit) for the 2014 Kentucky Derby. He will look to channel Street Sense who is the last horse that participated in the Blue Grass to go on to win the Kentucky Derby. 

Though Dance with Fate was impressive in the Blue Grass, his time for the 9.5 furlongs was relatively slow 1:50.06.  The Peter Eurton charge seems to fit the polytrack/turf mold. He likes to make one run and lacks early gate speed. He’s yet to win on a conventional dirt surface like the one he’ll see in Louisville. Dance with Fate holds the fate of the legacy of the Blue Grass Stakes under the Polytrack era at Keeneland.  Like the previous Blue Grass winners, Dance with Fate will be a long shot in the run for the roses. I expect history will repeat itself with this Polytrack runner.

Will 2015 be the year the Blue Grass Stakes reemerges as an important Derby Prep race? Will the switch to the new and improved dirt surface improve the quality of racing?  Only time will tell.

 

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Older Comments about The End of a Blue Grass Era...

People HERE have been around at many of the parallel venues which use the same surface. Our track maintenance director, I.D., calls in company advisors who tell him of new nuances gleaned from the other formulas (there are three different ones you know) and the consensus become common knowledge as to which track does what.
Your sample source is Woodbine. How much longer will Seedy Palace be around??
the cost, the maintenance, and the toll on horses lungs (we do not have any longitudinal data) are suggestive that it is not a good long term solution.
Great idea moving the inner at Aqueduct to synthetic
ever get a report on scoping a horse working and running on this fibrous crap?
I wasn't a big fan of synthetic because I like dirt much more and it was always a comparison but I have grown fond of the surface and don't think it should be a one of the other. I would like to see tracks like Aqueduct have all 3, turf, dirt and make the inner track synthetic. I still think there is a place for synthetics, but I wont take it at the expense of natural dirt
I wasn't a big fan of synthetic because I like dirt much more and it was always a comparison but I have grown fond of the surface and don't think it should be a one of the other. I would like to see tracks like Aqueduct have all 3, turf, dirt and make the inner track synthetic. I still think there is a place for synthetics, but I wont take it at the expense of natural dirt
I'm in favor of the synthetic at tracks like Meydan and Arlington. Even though American dirt horses have struggled at Meydan I thought it was a good idea to attract a more even playing field for Euro turfers and American dirt and turf horses to clash. I think Arlington should consider a hosting a big synthetic race on Arlington Million weekend.
THose other synthetics all say they are not going to change
I may be alone on this but I hope Arlington, Turfway, Woodbine, Presque, and Golden Gate remain synthentic. Surface changes are great betting opportunities.
I may be alone on this but I hope Arlington,
I bet they run him in the Derby. Temperatures must be rising. (fever)
The owners of Dance With Fate not being 100% committed to going to the Derby is all you need to know about the Polytrack. I'm very pleased they're going back to dirt.
Street Sense, Dullahan, Animal Kingdom, Went The Day well, Paddy O'Prado all ran Poly preps prior to running in the Derby. Pretty consistent results. Add Mine That Bird at 2 running only on Poly at Woodbine. Poly preps are not the problem. Keeneland has had record handle the last few years.
  • EP Taylor · I only threw in the Handle because of the all the handicappers who stayed away from betting Keeneland, and yet the Handle only got stronger. · 134 days ago
I don't think Dance With Fate will be going to the Derby, freeing up a spot for an actual dirt runner.
Glad to see the polytrack surface will be gone and who knows a well constructed modern dirt track may even be safer!
Good Riddance

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