LEXINGTON, KY (April 5, 2016) – Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Stonestreet Stables’ Zulu was installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s 92nd running of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1).
A total of 16 3-year-olds were entered Tuesday with the Ken and Sarah Ramsey-owned duo of Pinson and Hint of Roses being placed on the also-eligible list.
The 1 1/8-mile main track test serves as a major steppingstone for the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) to be run May 7 at Churchill Downs.
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 20 points.
The Toyota Blue Grass will go as the 10th race on Saturday’s 11-race program with a 6 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 12:35 p.m.
Winner of his first two starts, Zulu finished second in his stakes debut in his most recent start in the Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 27. Javier Castellano has the mount on Zulu and will break from post position four.
Zulu is one of three entrants in the race for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Pletcher’s other entrants are Donegal Racing’s Donegal Moon and Highclere America, McConnell Racing Stable, Wachtel Stable and Darlene Bilinski’s Cards of Stone.
Breaking from post position two under Martin Garcia, Donegal Moon is listed as the 5-1 third choice on the morning line. Donegal Moon broke his maiden here last fall and enters Saturday’s race off a 13½-length allowance victory March 5 at Parx.
Cards of Stone, listed at 20-1 on the morning line, comes into the Toyota Blue Grass off a 13-length allowance score at Aqueduct. Paco Lopez has the call on Cards of Stone and will break from post position 11.
Pletcher, who saddled Carpe Diem to victory in last year’s Toyota Blue Grass, will be trying to become only the third trainer to win the race in consecutive years. He would join LeRoy Jolley with Honest Pleasure and For the Moment in 1976 and 1977, and Ben Jones with Faultless in 1947 and Coaltown in 1948.
In addition to Carpe Diem, Pletcher also won the Toyota Blue Grass with Bandini in 2005 and Monba in 2008.
The Albaugh Family Stable’s Brody’s Cause, winner of the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and third in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) here last fall, is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line.
Trained by Dale Romans, Brody’s Cause finished seventh in his 2016 debut in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 12. Luis Saez will be aboard for the first time Saturday and will break from post position six.
Brody’s Cause will be attempting to become the fourth horse to sweep the Breeders’ Futurity and Toyota Blue Grass, joining Round Table (1956-1957), Dullahan (2011-2012) and Carpe Diem (2014-2015). Romans trained Dullahan.
Romans also will send out William Pacella, Frank Jones Jr. and Frank Shoop’s Cherry Wine. A fast-finishing fourth in the Rebel (G2) in his most recent start, Cherry Wine is 12-1 on the morning line and will be ridden by Corey Lanerie.
Two other trainers besides Romans and Pletcher will be trying to add to their Toyota Blue Grass victory totals.
Two-time winner D. Wayne Lukas will send out Calumet Farm’s Goats Town. To be ridden by Robby Albarado and break from post position nine, Goats Town will be attempting to become the first maiden to win the race. Lukas won the Toyota Blue Grass in 1987 with War and the 2000 running with High Yield.
Mike Maker, who sent out Stately Victor to post the biggest upset in race history with an $82.20 payoff in 2010, will saddle Twizz, who broke his maiden at Fair Grounds on March 18 in his fourth start. Mitchell Murrill will ride Twizz, who is owned by the partnership of Warner Thoroughbreds, Freddy and Jessica Lewis III, Brett and Jim Setzer and Justice Racing Stable. Twizz will break from post eight and is 30-1 on the morning line.
Maker also trains also-eligibles Pinson and Hint of Roses.
Julien Leparoux is the only jockey going for a second Toyota Blue Grass triumph.
Leparoux, who won the 2013 renewal on Java’s War, will ride My Man Sam for trainer Chad Brown. Owned by Sheep Pond Partners, Newport Stables and Jay Bligh, My Man Sam is 10-1 on the morning line and will break from post position 14.
The field for the Toyota Blue Grass, with riders and morning-line odds, from the rail out is: Lookin for a Kiss (Tyler Gaffalione, 50-1), Donegal Moon (Garcia, 5-1), Cherry Wine (Lanerie, 12-1), Zulu (Castellano, 5-2), Crescent Drive (James Graham, 20-1), Brody’s Cause (Saez, 4-1), Laoban (Jose Lezcano, 12-1), Twizz (Murrill, 30-1), Goats Town (Albarado, 20-1), American Dubai (Chris Landeros, 20-1), Cards of Stone (Lopez, 20-1), Zapperini (Francisco Torres, 30-1), Star Hill (Emisael Jaramillo, 10-1), My Man Sam (Leparoux, 10-1). Also-eligibles: Pinson (Joe Bravo, 30-1) and Hint of Roses (Florent Geroux). All starters will carry 123 pounds.