Full Gate Set to Go Postward
By Dick Downey
There's a full gate of 14 for the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, and every horse in the field probably needs Kentucky Derby points to have any shot at making the big dance. Almost all of them need to either win or place.
Somelikeithotbrown leads in Derby points with 20, and he's currently ranked number 21 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with four major preps remaining. The Blue Grass, Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby are set this weekend, followed a week later by the Arkansas Derby, and with lesser points being awarded in the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes the same day.
Signalman has 18 points. Vekoma and Win Win Win each have 10. Market king has 7.5, and the remaining horses in the field have four or fewer points, or none at all.
Somelikeithotbrown enters off an easy victory in the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park, which was preceded by an equally facile win in the John Battaglia Memorial. He’ll try to make a successful transition from turf and synthetic surfaces to dirt for trainer Mike Maker. Somelikeithotbrown's sole effort on dirt was many miles ago in his debut, sprinting at Saratoga on a sloppy track, when he ran well off the board. Perhaps to his advantage, the Ruby was run at the Blue Grass distance of 1 1/8 mile.
Tyler Gaffalione has the mount from post 1.
Signalman comes into the Bluegrass for only his second start of the year after finishing seventh in the Fountain of Youth Stakes for trainer Kenny McPeek. Last year at Keeneland, he finished second in the Breeders Futurity, followed by a third place finish in the Breeders Cup Juvenile and a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club, both at Churchill downs.
Brian Hernandez Jr. retains the mount and will break from post 3.
Vekoma, trained by George Weaver, is set to make only his fourth career start in the Blue Grass. After breaking his maiden on debut, he won the one-mile, one-turn Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct last November. This year, he finished a credible third going two turns for the first time in the Fountain of Youth behind Code of Honor and Bourbon War.
Javier Castellano will be aboard from post 2.
Win Win Win, who's been training at Fair Hill in Maryland following a winter campaign in Florida, ships in for trainer Mike Trombetta. He set a track record winning the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes in January before finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby after a wide trip.
Breaking from post 8, Win Win Win will have Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons.
Market King enters as a newly-emerged Kentucky Derby hope for trainer D. Wayne Lucas. After breaking his maiden in his fifth start, and following an optional claiming race at Oakland Park where he ran a close third, he finished a distant third under John Velasquez in the second of two divisions of the Rebel Stakes.
From post 4, Market King will exit under Jon Court.
It wouldn’t quite be the Blue Grass Stakes without trainer Dale Romans, who sends out maiden winner Moonster as well as Admire, the latter one having no Derby points. After winning his second start, Moonster was sent into grade I company, finishing 10th in the Breeders Futurity. Recent efforts include an eighth-place finish in the Sam F. Davis Stakes and a strong-finishing third in the Jeff Ruby. Admire was most recently seen finishing seventh, beaten 4 1/4 lengths by Tacitus, in the Tampa Bay Derby.
Moonster drew post 13 and will have the services of John McKee. Admire is in post 7 with Robby Albarado up.
Sir Winston, who has one Kentucky Derby point, seeks to step up for trainer Mark Casse. After winning the Display Stakes on Woodbine's synthetic track in his final start of 2018, in two outings this year he's finished fourth, beaten five lengths, in the Withers Stakes, and fifth, beaten four lengths, in the Tampa Bay Derby
He’ll be written by Julien Leparoux from post 9.
The remaining field is without any Kentucky Derby points.
The Blue Grass offers a purse of $1 million and 170 Kentucky Derby points with 100 to the winner, 40 to second, 20 to third and 10 to fourth. Historically, 40 points have been plenty to make the Kentucky Derby field, with 30 points often on the bubble in the waning days before the race.
NBC Sports Network will broadcast the race live from Keeneland.
The full field from the rail out with jockey, trainer, morning line:
1 Somelikeithotbrown, Tyler Gaffalione, Mike Maker, 10-1
2 Vekoma, Javier Castellano, George Weaver, 9-5
3 Signalman, Brian Hernandez, Jr., Ken McPeek, 8-1
4 Market King, Jon Court, D. Wayne Lukas, 20-1
5 Chess Chief, Paco Lopez, Dallas Stewart, 30-1
6 Dream Maker, Florent Geroux, Mark Casse, 10-1
7 Admire, Robby Albarado, Dale Romans, 15-1
8 Win Win Win, Irad Ortiz, Jr., Mike Trombetta, 7-2
9 Sir Winston, Julien Leparoux, Mark Casse, 15-1
10 Lucky Lee, Chris Landeros, John Servis, 15-1
11 So Alive, Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher 15-1
12 Parsimony, Mario Gutierrez, Doug O'Neill, 20-1
13 Moonster, John McKee, Dale Romans, 30-1
14 Aquadini, Corey Lanerie, Dallas Stewart, 30-1