2021 Blue Grass Stakes at a Glance

The horses break out of the starting gate for the 2019 edition of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. (Coady Photography)

It’s springtime in Kentucky and with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve just four weeks away, thoughts of the Triple Crown are blooming like roses in the Bluegrass State. The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes will bring the nine entrants to the home state of the run for the roses, positioning them a relatively short drive away from Churchill Downs – if they can prove their mettle in Saturday’s race.

Blue Grass Stakes

Racetrack: Keeneland, Lexington, Ky.
Date: April 3
Purse: $800,000
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Race: 11
Post Time: 6:35 p.m. ET
Notable winners: Good Magic (2018), Skip Away (1996), Holy Bull (1994), Prairie Bayou (1993), Strike the Gold (1991), Summer Squall (1990), Linkage (1982), Spectacular Bid (1979), Alydar (1978), Honest Pleasure (1976), Master Derby (1975), Riva Ridge (1972), Dust Commander (1970), Arts and Letters (1969), Forward Pass (1968), Northern Dancer (1964), Chateaugay (1963), Ridan (1962), Round Table (1957), Coaltown (1948), Bimelech (1940).
First held: 1937

With 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points on the line to the top four finishers, the Blue Grass will assure at least two starters, and quite possible more, of a berth in the opening leg of the Triple Crown.

The Blue Grass Stakes will be televised on NBCSN along with the Wood Memorial Stakes and the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby as part of NBC Sports’ “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series starting at 5:30 p.m. ET.

1. Hidden Stash (20-1): When last seen in Kentucky he was a promising allowance winner at two. Since turning three, he was a solid third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes and a game second in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby. He appears to be on the upswing. With his late-running style and a ground-saving trip, he seems a serious threat to land a spot in the exotics.

JOCKEY: Rafael Bejarano; TRAINER: Victoria Oliver

2. Untreated (10-1): He started his career with trainer Chad Brown in a sprint and showed little. Then, he was purchased at a dispersal sale by Team Valor International, sent to trainer Todd Pletcher, and he broke his maiden like a champ going two turns. He’s certainly found his calling as a router and stands a good chance to hit the board in a top-heavy race.

JOCKEY: Joel Rosario; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher

3. Highly Motivated (3-1): He had a troubled trip when third in the Gotham Stakes in his 3-year-old debut. He owns a nice win on this main track in a sprint stakes and should benefit from his comeback race, even with the trouble. He’s bred for two turns and seems poised for a big effort in this spot.

JOCKEY: Javier Castellano; TRAINER: Chad Brown                                       

4. Essential Quality (3-5): He’s the division’s reigning champ at 2 and has done nothing wrong in his career, winning all four of his starts, including two Grade 1 wins at Keeneland. He’s definitely the one to beat off a nice win in the Southwest Stakes to kick off his 2021 campaign and a must-use in sequence bets, but if 3-5 odds ($3.20 for a $2 bet) or lower is not your cup of tea, you might look for a backup option for a win bet.

JOCKEY: Luis Saez; TRAINER: Brad Cox

5. Rombauer (15-1): This should be a highly revealing race for a hard horse to gauge. At 2, he was well-beaten by Essential Quality in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance but was second before that in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes. His lone race at 3 was a win on an all-weather surface at Golden Gate Fields , which isn’t helpful here. Probably best to pass on him today based on that last race against Essential Quality, although his trainer usually does pretty well when he ships cross-country.

JOCKEY: Florent Geroux; TRAINER: Michael McCarthy

6. Leblon (50-1): He was fourth last time out in an allowance race. Even though he has the excuse of a sloppy track in that race, he seems way over his head here.

JOCKEY: Albin Jimenez; TRAINER: Paulo Lobo

7. Hush of a Storm (15-1): He’s 3-for-3 on a synthetic surface but was no factor in his lone dirt race. Off that imbalance, hard to like him here.

JOCKEY: Santiago Gonzalez; TRAINER: William Morey

8. Sittin On Go (30-1): Ever since he won the Iroquois Stakes Presented by Ford in September, he hasn’t done anything to inspire confidence in him rebounding with a big effort here. Four races with nothing better than a sixth make him a tossout.

JOCKEY: Corey Lanerie; TRAINER: Dale Romans

9. Keepmeinmind (8-1): He had some setbacks preparing for his 3-year-old debut and finished sixth against Essential Quality in the Southwest Stakes. He should take a step forward here, but the outside post and a speed-favoring track could work against him.

JOCKEY: David Cohen; TRAINER: Robertino Diodoro

THE PICK: Highly Motivated



2021 Toyota Blue Grass S.
April 3rd, 2021

4 Essential Quality
3 Highly Motivated
5 Rombauer
1 Hidden Stash
9 Keepmeinmind
8 Sittin On Go
7 Hush of a Storm
2 Untreated
6 Leblon

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