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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Quick Turnaround for Bluegrass Singer


Trainer Marcus Vitali said he debated whether to run Bluegrass Singer in the Fountain of Youth or Swale Stakes. As things turned out, he'll be doing both.

“I feel good. I feel confident. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t go in,” Vitali said. “He seemed to come back out of the (Fountain of Youth) a little better than expected. He’s a strong horse. I think he’ll be fine. We got an extra week after they canceled the race, and he’s doing good. I’m just thinking a little bit out of the box.”

The speedy Bluegrass Singer captured the one-mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes in early January, spawning hopes of a run at the Kentucky Derby. That ambition was quelled when he didn't finish well in either the Holy Bull or Fountain of Youth.

“I was thinking the Swale before I went in the Fountain of Youth,” Vitali said. “I wasn’t disappointed in the Fountain of Youth. It was a crapshoot. Those horses in there, they’re the real deal. When you’re running against horses like Frosted and Upstart, you’ve got to wonder if it was the distance. I thought he carried the field a pretty good six, 6 1/2 furlongs last time, and the track was a little funny that day. There were just so many unanswered questions off that race, it kind of swayed me a little bit to go in this direction.”

In his last try at sprinting, Bluegrass Singer was third by a neck in the Buffalo Man Stakes on Nov. 29 at Gulfstream Park West. He captured back-to-back one-turn mile races at Gulfstream Park, including an entry-level allowance under Edgar Prado, before stepping up into graded stakes. Prado will be back aboard for the Swale.

“I actually discussed this with Edgar, too. My whole team, we just feel that this is probably the right spot to come back. I think he’s a much tighter horse now going into the sprint. I’m just hoping I’ve got him wound down enough off those two routes,” Vitali said. “I figured that if you look at all the numbers, he certainly fits. I talked it over with my boss, and we both came up with the game plan to run in here after it was canceled. He’s training real well, so we figured we’d take a stab at it. I don’t think he’ll embarrass us.”

Senor Grits Makes Graded Stakes Debut

Patiently managed to his grade-stakes debut, the wait ends for Senor Grits with the Swale.

The seven-furlong Swale comes five weeks after Senor Grits made his season debut with a handy 1 1/2-length victory in an entry-level allowance at Tampa Bay Downs.

“I always had the Swale in mind for him,” trainer Ian Wilkes said. “He’s a fast little horse. I think he’ll be well-suited in there. The plan the whole winter was to point for the Swale and give him a shot in there.”

Senor Grits is one of six horses from the original Swale field to be re-entered after its rain-induced postponement.

Senor Grits ran third behind Cinco Charlie and Majestic Affair, beaten 3 3/4 lengths, in the James F. Lewis III Stakes at Laurel Park to end his juvenile campaign. In all, seven of the 10 horses in the Lewis returned to win races.
“The form in that race is unbelievable,” Wilkes said. “It speaks very highly of him.”

Though he prefers to run from off the pace, Senor Grits found himself well back in his most recent race before launching a three-wide bid and closing steadily to win in 1:09.74 in his fourth straight start at six furlongs.

“He ran a 1:09 at Tampa to win which was an exceptional run, because he got a little further back in the race than I planned,” Wilkes said. “He was just a victim of circumstances there the way it shaped up, but he caught the leader quite easily, actually. It was a very impressive race.”

Edited Gulfstream Park release


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