Blue Grass Stakes

Blue Grass Stakes BettingThe Blue Grass Stakes, currently sponsored by Toyota, is a Grade 1 race for 3-year-old’s held in mid April at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky. It was named after the Bluegrass region of Kentucky known as the “heart” of the thoroughbred racing industry, much as Newmarket is regarded as racing’s headquarters in Britain.

The 2013 Blue Grass Stakes will be held on April 13th and for online betting on the event we can recommend Sportsbook.com racebook (US friendly).

History

The race was first run in at the Kentucky Association in Lexington in 1911 and quickly became established as an important trial for the Kentucky Derby. The filly Round the World had been hyped up after a morning gallop and newspapers reported that Governor Gray would need to win the Blue Grass Stakes to retain his position as Derby favourite. Governor Gray won the race by half a length and set a new track record in the process.

The Kentucky Association race track was closed in the 1930’s with the Blue Grass Stakes being revived in 1937 at Keeneland. There have been 23 Kentucky Derby winners that came from the Blue Grass Stakes, make this the most successful prep race at the current time.

In 2006 Keeneland decided to replace its dirt course with a Polytrack surface for the 2007 event. The first season that the race was held on the new surface saw Street Sense finish second to follow up his Tampa Bay Derby victory. He then went on to win The Kentucky Derby.

Previous Blue Grass Stakes Winners

In 1941, Whirlaway finished second in the Blue Grass Stakes before going on to win the Triple Crown of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. He remains the only Triple Crown winner to come out of the Blue Grass Stakes.

Spectacular Bid came close to joining him in 1979. He went to the Kentucky Derby undefeated after winning The Blue Grass Stakes nine days earlier. He won the first two legs of the Triple Crown but could finish only third in the Belmont. In 1987, Alysheba finished 3rd at Keeneland before winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. In the Belmont, Alysheba was forced to race without the medication Lasix, a prohibited substance at the time in New York racing. He finished fourth, beaten 14 lengths by Bet Twice. In 1991 Strike The Gold won both races, a feat also achieved by Bubbling Over (1926), Shut Out (1942), Chateaugay (1963), Northern Dancer (1964), Forward Pass (1968) and Dust Commander (1970).

Northern Dancer was a Canadian-bred racehorse who went on to become the most successful sire of the 20th Century. He was by Nearctic out of Natalma (by Native Dancer). His record of seven victories in nine starts earned him the Canadian Juvenile Championship and he started his three-year-old campaign by winning the Grade I Flamingo Stakes and the Grade I Florida Derby. Jockey Willie Shoemaker preferred Hill Rise for his Derby mount so Bill Hartack became Northern Dancer’s regular pilot. He won the Blue Grass Stakes and then defeated Hill Rise in a record time in Kentucky, a record that was eventually beaten by Secretariat in 1973.

In 1995, the Blue Grass stakes produced Thunder Gulch who won 2 legs on the Triple Crown but finished only third in the Preakness Stakes.

The Records

The record time for the race was set by Dullahan in 2012 (1:47.94). Calumet Farm enjoyed great success in this event, winning it six times between 1938 and 1978, the most recent by Alydar who was to finish second to Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races. Legendary jockey Willie Shoemaker rode the winner six times between 1959 and 1982.

The most successful trainers in the history of the race with three wins apiece are Ben A. Jones (1943, 1947, 1948), Woody Stephens (1949, 1954, 1974), LeRoy Jolley (1962, 1976, 1977) and Nick Zito (1991, 1998, 2004).

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