The Bluegrass Stakes is one of my favorite preps for the Kentucky Derby. The most recent Kentucky Derby winner to exit the race was Street Sense in 2007. He finished second in the Bluegrass. Before him the race produced Derby winners like Strike the Gold, Spectacular Bid and Riva Ridge. 1996 winner Skip Away went on to win the Breeders Cup Classic.
Unfortunately it appears that none of these colts have huge star potential like those listed above. The favorite, Santiva, is eligible for non winners of two at this point. This doesn’t discourage me about his chances though. 1987 Kentucky Derby winner Alysheba entered the Run for the Roses with only a single win.
Santiva is probably an ill advised wager at 3-1, but that doesn’t mean there are not things to like about him. He was a very solid second behind Mucho Macho Man in the Risen Star last out. His breeding is top notching as a son of Giant’s Causeway out of a Smarten mare. I look for him to get an ideal tracking trip behind the speed. Jockey Julien Leparoux is practically the King of Keeneland so he also has that going for him.
Willcox Inn is worth a look at the morning line odds of 10-1. I don’t expect him to be anywhere near that price though. The son of Harlan’s Holiday has never run a bad race. He was last seen finishing second to Great Mills in the Grindstone Stakes. That effort was the perfect tune up for his main track try here. Last year he finished third in the Dixiana Futurity and the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf. The Stidham trainee is working well and looks ripe to run his best race with Anna Napravnik up.
Betting a horse in the Bluegrass Stakes with more than a single win could be a good angle as 5 of the 12 entries have just a single win. Wilkinson is a two time winner and his last win came in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes. After that he failed to fire in the Louisiana Derby. Getting on the synthetic track at Keeneland should help the son of Lemon Drop Kid. He debuted to be second by a head over this surface. Crimson China also looks good. The son of Giant’s Causeway was second in the Rushaway which is traditionally a key race for this and the Lexington Stakes. He will come running late and should be a great price.
I’ll go with Willcox Inn as my top pick here. I love the way he is coming into this race. Use Santiva, Crimson China and Wilkinson underneath in the exacta. The rail horse, Newsdad, is usable on the trifecta.
Who do you like?