By Dick Downey
Photo by Coady Photography
Ocho Ocho Ocho shot from post 1 to the lead as promised, but Carpe Diem hounded him every step of the way to the top of the stretch and then drew away to win the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.
Timed in 1:49.77 under John Velazquez, Carpe Diem was three lengths better than the late-running Danzig Moon. Ocho Ocho Ocho hung on for third, another 2 1/2 lengths back and 1 3/4 lengths better than fourth finisher Frammento. Classy Class was fifth, followed by Gorgeous Bird, Unrivaled and Pepper Roani.
Ocho Ocho Ocho set fractions of :24.15, :48.05 and 1:12.18, but at the furlong marker, Carpe Diem led the pacesetter by 3 1/2 lengths, with Danzig Moon poised to gain second.
The son of Giant's Causeway won his second race in two starts this year. He easily took the Tampa Bay Derby on March 7 to garner 50 Kentucky Derby points. The Blue Grass added 100 more to push his total to 164, second on the leaderboard.
Bred by Coffee Pot Stable in Kentucky, Carpe Diem is owned by WinStar Farm LLC and Stonestreet Stables LLC. He's out of the Unbridled's Song mare Rebridled Dreams. He was sold for at the $550,000 Keeneland September 2013 yearling sale and brought $1,600,000 at the March 2014 sale at Ocala.
Carpe Diem returned $2.80, $2.40, $2.10. Danzig Moon, ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $7.80 and $5.00. Ocho Ocho Ocho paid $3.20 to show under Santiago Gonzalez.
Elliott Walden of WinStar said after the race that Carpe Diem may be taken back to Palm Beach Downs before being shipped to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. Ownership will discuss the matter with trainer Todd Pletcher.
The Toyota Blue Grass was run on a dirt surface for the first time since 2006, when Sinister Minister won the race by almost 13 lengths.