Connections React to Post Positions
Trained by Chad Brown, Good Magic makes his second start of the year in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. In his 2018 debut, he finished a non-threatening third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park as the reigning Champion 2-year-old male of 2017.
Jose Ortiz has the mount on Good Magic, who will break from post position 11, and he is named as the 2-1 morning line favorite.
Second choice on the morning line at 5-1 is Free Drop Billy, trained by two-time Blue Grass winner Dale Romans. Free Drop Billy enters Saturday’s race off a third-place finish in the Gotham at Aqueduct on March 10. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount on Free Drop Billy for the first time and will break from post position 10.
Free Drop Billy will try to join Romans’ trainees Dullahan and Brody’s Cause as victors of both the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and the Blue Grass. The only other horses to accomplish the double were Round Table and Carpe Diem.
Romans also will send out Tiz Mischief. A maiden winner at Keeneland last fall, Tiz Mischief finished fifth in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby in his most recent start. Corey Lanerie has the mount on Tiz Mischief and will break from post 9 as a 30-1 morning-line proposition.
Co-third choice on the morning line at 6-1 is Tampa Bay Derby winner Quip. Trained by Rodolphe Brisset, Quip has won three of four starts with one of those triumphs coming at Keeneland last fall. Florent Geroux has the mount on Quip, who will break from post 5.
Also at 6-1 is the hard-trying Flameaway. Trained by Mark Casse, Flameaway was runner-up to Quip in the Tampa Bay Derby, and prior to that he won the Sam F. Davis at the same track. Flameaway, winner of Keeneland’s Dixiana Bourbon taken off the turf last fall, will break from post 12 and be ridden by Jose Lezcano.
Four other trainers beside Romans will try for another win of Keeneland's top race for 3-year-olds.
Three-time winner Todd Pletcher is represented by Marconi, listed at 15-1 on the morning line. Ryan Moore has the mount and will break from post 6.
Two-time winner D. Wayne Lukas will send out Sporting Chance, the 2017 Hopeful winner getting a change of scenery from Oaklawn Park. To be ridden by Luis Saez, Sporting Chance, 10-1 on the morning line, will break from post 2.
Doug O’Neill, whose Irap became the first maiden to win the Blue Grass last year, will try to become the third trainer to win the race in consecutive years when he sends out Blended and Arawak.
Listed at 15-1 on the morning line, Blended Citizen won the Jeff Ruby Steaks in his most recent start at Turfway Park on March 17 with Arawak finishing third. Kyle Frey has the mount on Blended Citizen, who will break from post 7, while Arawak (30-1) is set to break from post 14 under Fernando De La Cruz. Arawak adds blinkers.
Trainers who won the race in consecutive years are LeRoy Jolley with Honest Pleasure and For the Moment in 1976 and 1977, and Ben Jones with Faultless in 1947 and Coaltown in 1948.
Mike Maker, who sent out Stately Victor to post the biggest upset in race history with an $82.80 payoff in 2010, will saddle California Night. A winner of two of three starts, California Night will break from post 3 and be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione. California Night is 30-1 on the morning line.
Julien Leparoux, a perennial force at Keeneland, has the mount on Kanthaka. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Kanthaka is 10-1 on the morning line and will break from post 4.
Leparoux, who won last year’s race on Irap, also will try to join six other riders to have won the race in consecutive years. Edgar Prado in 2002 and 2003 is the most recent jockey to accomplish the feat, joining Bill Shoemaker (twice), Eddie Arcaro, Pat Day, Shane Sellers and Mike Smith. Leparoux also won the 2013 renewal on Java’s War.
Toyota Blue Grass Stakes: 1 Zing Zang 30-1 (S Bridgmohan), 2 Sporting Chance 10-1 (L Saez), 3 California Night 30-1 (T Gaffalione), 4 Kanthaka 10-1 (J Leparoux), 5 Quip 6-1 (F Geroux), 6 Marconi 15-1 (R Moore), 7 Blended Citizen 15-1 (K Frey), 8 Gotta Go 30-1 (C Landeros), 9 Tiz Mischief 30-1 (C Lanerie), 10 Free Drop Billy 5-1 (I Ortiz Jr), 11 Good Magic 2-1 (J Ortiz), 12 Flameaway 6-1 (J Lezcano), 13 Machismo 20-1 (J Radosovich), 14 Arawak 30-1 (F de la Cruz), Also eligible: 15 Determinant. Binkers On: Arawak
TOYOTA BLUE GRASS POST POSITION DRAW QUOTES
Bobby Powell, consultant for Terry Green’s Jackpot Farm, owner of Zing Zang; post 1, 30-1 in the morning line: “(Drawing the rail) is OK. We have a horse that’s big, he needs to stay out of trouble. He’s not going to be on the front end, so the rail will not bother us. Once he gets his momentum going, he needs to be out of trouble and have a clear path in front of him. Having the rail, going the first half-mile, it’s not going to bother us at all.”
Michael Hernon, Director of Sales for Gainesway Farm. Zing Zang was bred by Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd.: “He’s a horse that gets into a rhythm. He’ll come later in the race. It’s a mile and an eighth; he’s improving, and if he gets a good trip, hopefully he’ll be making a challenge at the furlong marker.”
Christina Jelm, East Coast assistant for Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer of Kanthaka; post 4, 10-1: “Kanthaka has won previously from posts 3 and 5, and so we are quite pleased starting from position number 4. It’s clear that our horse has a tremendous turn of foot, and his versatility will allow Leparoux to rate however necessary when the gates open.”
Rodolphe Brisset, trainer of Quip; post 5, 6-1: “The horse trained here last year for six months, we already have a run here, and we know he likes the track. We got a good draw.”
David Hanley, General Manager of WinStar Farm, breeder and co-owner of Quip: “I think it is the perfect spot for him. He has plenty of speed out of the gate and should be able to sit himself in a good position out of there. He should get a position and be able to relax.”
Jack Sisterson, assistant to Doug O’Neill, trainer of Blended Citizen and Arawak. Blended Citizen post 7, 15-1. Arawak post 14, 30-1: “Blended Citizen is great. He shows no early speed so he’s just going to break, play the break and get into his momentum. He’ll be finishing up pretty strongly the last eighth of a mile, so we’re not concerned with his post position. And Arawak drawing wide, we’ve had luck with Nyquist drawing 13 and I’ll Have Another was 19 (when both won the Kentucky Derby), so the wide draw doesn’t concern us. (Arawak is) going to have blinkers added on Saturday, and he’s got a good gate rider (Fernando De La Cruz), so he’s going to be a lot more forwardly placed just to get a good position early so he’s not too wide going into the first turn.”
Ian Wilkes, trainer of Gotta Go, by phone from Ocala, Florida, post 8, 30-1: “Post eight is fine. No problem at all there. At least we are not down on the fence and not stuck on the far outside.”
Dale Romans, trainer of Tiz Mischief and Free Drop Billy. Tiz Mischief post 9. 30-1. Free Drop Billy post 10, 5-1: “Those are good spots. In a 14-horse field, you worry about getting too far outside. And if you are too far inside, you can get (interfered with). They are sitting in perfect spots.”
Chad Brown, trainer of Good Magic, via text, post 11, 2-1 favorite: “The post is slightly disappointing, but he’s training very well.”
Mike Ryan, representing e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, co-owner of Good Magic: “It’s a bulky field; obviously a clean break and a smooth trip is critical because there will be horses backing up. There will be traffic in the race with as large of a field as we have. He’s good breaking, and he has tactical speed. I believe he can put himself in the race. Jose knows him very well and hopefully he’ll be in a nice stalking position going into the first turn and stay out of trouble.”
David Carroll, assistant to trainer Mark Casse about Flameaway, post 12, 6-1: “The post is the post; he’s a very experienced horse. He’s won (the Dixiana Bourbon) over the track. He’ll be forwardly placed, and Jose knows the horse well and we’re very happy with him. We’d obviously like to be drawn in a little bit more inside, but he won the Bourbon from this post. We’re looking forward to the race. He shipped in yesterday and looks terrific and Mark’s been very happy with him.”
Anthony Quartarolo, trainer of Machismo, post 13, 20-1: “Not that happy with the post, but we’ll see how we can overcome it. He has good gate speed, and the three speed inside are going to go. It’s going to be a little bit of maneuvering to try to get a good trip because everyone else is going to be looking for position. A big field, the break is huge; gotta break clean, gotta get a clean trip and just hope everything works out.”
The Toyota Blue Grass offers 170 points toward qualification for this year’s Derby with 100 going to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third place and 10 points to fourth. The Derby is limited to the top 20 point earners that pass the entry box and currently the cut line is 29 points.
The Toyota Blue Grass will go as the 10th race on Saturday’s 11-race program with a 6:23 pm ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 pm.
NBC Sports Network will have a live national broadcast of the Toyota Blue Grass, along with the Wood Memorial from Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby, from 5:30-7:30 pm ET.
KEENELAND CARDS 11 RACES
Post time for the first race on all 16 days of Keeneland’s 2018 Spring Meet, which opens Friday, is 1:05 pm ET. On Saturday, Keeneland will run 11 races with the final race post time of 6:50 p.m. Approximate post times for the day’s stakes are Commonwealth at 4 pm, Shakertown at 4:35 pm, Madison at 5:10 pm, Central Bank Ashland at 5:45 pm and Toyota Blue Grass at 6:23 pm.
The Spring Meet concludes Friday, April 27, with racing on Wednesdays through Sundays.
Edited Keeneland release with additional content by Dick Downey