VIRGINIA DERBY PATH SOWED WITH BLUEGRASS

(by Nick Hahn)

Hey everybody! The sun just (and the wind) just came out at Keeneland…..

For the second year in the row, today’s $750,000 Toyota Bluegrass is “turf infused”, with several starters having considerable turf experience on their racing resumes.  Why the interest? Beginning in 2008, the Virginia Derby has featured at least one starter from the Bluegrass. Last year’s Bluegrass starters, Stately Victor (1st), Paddy O’Prado (2nd) and Interactiff (4th) found their way back to the turf at Colonial Downs.  Hold Me Back (2009-2nd) and Kentucky Bear (2008-3rd) are also Bluegrass starters that finished well in the Bluegrass and returned to the turf at Colonial Downs.

How large of a turf impact is there in the Bluegrass?

  • The top three finishers in Gulfstream’s $150,000 Palm Beach (gr. IIIT) are in the feature’s 12-horse field-Joe’s Blazing Aaron, Queen’splatekitten and Newsdad.
  • The leader on my personal Turf Ten list, King Congie, has crossed the wire first in his last three starts-all on the turf.  In his last start, King Congie was placed third in the $100,000 Hallendale Beach stakes after drifting out badly in the stretch.  Brilliant Speed, who was impacted by King Congie in that race and placed second, is also here.
  • Willcox Inn was third in last fall’s Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf and this year’s runnerup in the Grindstone makes his second 2011 start.
  • Crimson China’s last win was on the turf in a Gulfstream allowance at a mile and an eighth.  Graham Motion’s colt followed that effort as the runner up over the synthetic in the $100,000 Rushaway at Turfway Park.
  • Every colt in today’s 12-horse Bluegrass has at least one start on the turf except for Wilkinson, the looming third choice in the morning line.

Pay attention to today’s Bluegrass Stakes. There’s a good chance you will see more of these colts in July.