Many of the nation’s most talented three-year-olds, including champion Uncle Mo, Grade II Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth winner Soldat, Grade II San Vicente winner The Factor and Grade III Holy Bull winner Dialed In, are among the 162 horses nominated to Keeneland’s $750,000 Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes slated for April 16.
The 2011 spring race meeting, to be held April 8-29, will kick off the year-long celebration of Keeneland’s 75th anniversary.
Held three weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby, the 1 1/8-mile Toyota Blue Grass is one of the country’s richest Triple Crown preps. The Blue Grass was first held at the old Kentucky Association track in Lexington from 1911-14 and from 1919-26, and revived by Keeneland in the spring of 1937, one year after its opening. In all, 23 horses – four at the Kentucky Association track and 19 at Keeneland – have used the Blue Grass as a path to victory in the Derby; most recently champion Street Sense in 2007.
Mike Repole purchased Uncle Mo for $220,000 from Four Star Sales, agent, at Keeneland’s 2009 September Yearling Sale. The colt also sold as a weanling at the 2008 November Breeding Stock Sale.
Eclipse Award-winning trainers Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert are each represented by 14 Toyota Blue Grass nominees. Repole Stable’s Uncle Mo and Grade 1 stakes-placed Stay Thirsty, along with WinStar Farm’s Grade III Sam F. Davis winner Brethren, highlight the Pletcher contingent. Fog City Stable and George Bolton’s San Vicente winner The Factor leads the Baffert nominees.
Two Toyota Blue Grass nominees were impressive recent stakes winners at Gulfstream Park. Soldat stamped himself as a leading Derby contender with a wire-to-wire, two-length win in the Grade II Fountain of Youth, while Flashpoint dominated the Grade II Hutcheson field by 71/4 lengths.
“This is an exciting crop of three-year-olds, and we are very pleased to have so many of the top Kentucky Derby contenders nominated to the Toyota Blue Grass,” said W. Rogers Beasley, Keeneland’s Vice President of Racing. “We thank our horsemen for their support, and look forward to a spectacular spring meeting.”
Among other prominent Triple Crown contenders nominated to the Toyota Blue Grass are: Dialed In, winner of the Holy Bull; Archarcharch and J P’s Gusto, first and second in the Grade III Southwest; Mucho Macho Man, winner of the Grade II Risen Star; Silver Medallion, winner of the Grade III El Camino Real Derby; and Sway Away, second in the San Vicente.
--Edited Keeneland release