Quip Scratches and Others to Watch in the Blue Grass with Weather Issues
Saturday’s $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland awards Derby points to the top-4 finishers (100-40-20-10) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, and while there is no question that #11 Good Magic (2-1) is the one to beat in the huge field of 14, he’ll have to do it over a potentially wet track. Periods of rain and snow Friday night in Lexington will be followed by morning snow Saturday morning at the Kentucky track. Chilly temperatures near 40 degrees will greet patrons at the track, but it’s the horses that will have to overcome the snow, chill and slippery track.
Quip, the lone horse entered in the Blue Grass field with enough Derby points to qualify for the Run for the Roses already, has scratched from the Blue Grass and instead will run in next Saturday’s Arkansas Derby. That leaves Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner & 3rd place Fountain of Youth runner Good Magic (34 points) needing a top-4 finish against top challengers Free Drop Billy (5-1, 24 points), Flameaway (6-1, 30 points) and Sporting Chance (10-1, 2 points) as next wagering interests on the morning line. Many are counting on a good showing and improvement from Good Magic, including his trainer Chad Brown.
“The post is slightly disappointing, but he’s training very well,” Brown said Tuesday after the draw.
Blended Citizen (15-1, 22 points) is another that needs a top-3 finish in the Blue Grass to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. He transfers from a pair of races on the synthetic surface to dirt, but gets a better pace setup here and relishes the distance.
Also, #13 Machismo (20-1), 4th in the Fountain of Youth, is another Blue Grass contender whose status is in flux. He’s a definite long shot to include in your exotics if he runs, but co-owner Ron Paolucci has considered sending the son of More Than Ready to the Arkansas Derby.
“It’s more the track conditions, but I think the weather forecast has gotten a little bit better (for Kentucky),” Paolucci said. “We were planning on just passing the race. We were going to breeze him on Friday, but I told my trainer (Anthony Quartarolo) to hold off, and we’re going to kind of play it by the hour—see how the track plays. It’s supposed to be real cold in the morning and then 40s in the afternoon, so I don’t want a frozen track and then it thaws out.
“It’s going to be a 12th-hour decision. And the other thing, too, is the forecast at Oaklawn next week looks terrible. So it’s pick your poison. I would like to run (at Keeneland). I know I’m up against it with the draw, but this is a good horse.”
The Blue Grass was run on a synthetic Polytrack surface from 2007 to 2014 before returning to the dirt main track in 2015. The last Blue Grass runner to win the Kentucky Derby was Street Sense, who finished 2nd by a nose in the Blue Grass.
Tune in Saturday, April 7 for the 1 1/8 mile Blue Grass Stakes with post time for Race 10 at 6:23 ET from Keeneland.