The Blue Grass Stakes (G1) caps a terrific card on Saturday on opening weekend from Keeneland. It’s one of three destinations this week — Santa Anita and Aqueduct are the others — for Kentucky Derby contenders.
It starts what should be a banner year for the Lexington, Kentucky racetrack, which hosts the Breeders’ Cup at season’s end. Last fall, Keeneland installed a new dirt track, replacing the artificial dirt surface. As a result, the Blue Grass once again serves as a destination for horses that expect to compete for top honors in Louisville in four weeks.
Carpe Diem, #3 in my Derby rankings (prior to final preps, which started last week), leads the way. He’s even money on the morning line. I expect that he’ll be 3/5 or even lower by post time. Here’s why:
- He’s run faster than any other horse in the field.
- He’s won over this track in a very impressive performance last Fall.
- He’s cost $1.7 million and he’s bred for distance.
- His comeback in Tampa was sharp and confident.
I fully expect a top notch performance from Carpe Diem, likely earning his first triple digit Beyer and romping by open lengths against the rest of the field.
Of the other contenders, someone will have to improve to even come within a few lengths of Carpe Diem. Ocho Ocho Ocho, who at one time was #5 in my Derby rankings, had a disappointing comeback in the San Felipe last month. He’d need to fully turn it around; the ship out of the west coast — presumably to get away from Dortmund — doesn’t inspire a tremendous amount of confidence. Gorgeous Bird, inspired a great amount of hype when he won a 1st-level allowance at Gulfstream. But that speed figure from that race came back low, and he was rather dull in the Fountain of Youth. Classy Class has been a bit of a puzzle throughout the winter. I’m excited to see him away from the inner dirt at Aqueduct. Danzig Moon was an impressive maiden winner in February at Gulfstream, but failed to back that up last time he met Carpe Diem in Tampa.
Image: Missing8519, Copyright 2007.