It wasn’t straightforward, however Important High quality gained the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday to stay undefeated and go into subsequent month’s Kentucky Derby because the possible favourite.
Extremely Motivated set the early fractions — with Important High quality racing simply off of him in second place — earlier than Important High quality lastly challenged him within the stretch and in the end handed him to win by a neck in his closing Derby tuneup for coach and Louisville native Brad Cox.
Important High quality was a 1-2 favourite and paid $3.00 to win, $2.20 to put and $2.10 to indicate.
The runner-up spot went to 7-2 second selection Extremely Motivated, who’s educated by Chad Brown and earned 40 qualifying factors towards the Kentucky Derby, sufficient to get him into the beginning gate at Churchill Downs. Rombauer was third, and Hidden Stash completed fourth.
Important High quality — a grey son of Tapit — will take an ideal 5-for-5 document to the Kentucky Derby on Might 1 at Churchill Downs, the positioning of his first profession victory, which got here on Sept. 5 — final 12 months’s Derby date.
Jockey Luis Saez will probably be again within the Kentucky Derby for the primary time since using Most Safety throughout the end line first two years in the past, however that colt was disqualified to seventeenth place after a prolonged video evaluation of the race, and Nation Home was named the winner. Saez has ridden Important High quality in his final 4 begins, all graded stakes victories.
Cox, 41, is the reigning Eclipse Award winner for excellent coach, however he has by no means saddled a starter in his hometown Kentucky Derby. He’s now more likely to have the Derby favourite with Important High quality — final 12 months’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and 2-year-old champion — and Cox can also be anticipated to have Risen Star Stakes winner Mandaloun on this 12 months’s Derby. Cox additionally trains Derby hopeful Caddo River, who’s scheduled to run within the Arkansas Derby subsequent weekend.
Important High quality is a Godolphin homebred and will probably be that venerable racing outfit’s newest Kentucky Derby hope. Godolphin has had 11 Derby starters since 1999 with none of them ending higher than fourth.
No Blue Grass Stakes winner has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby since Strike the Gold took each races in 1991. Avenue Sense completed second within the Blue Grass and gained the Derby in 2007, and Thunder Gulch (1995) and Sea Hero (1993) have been each fourth within the Blue Grass earlier than occurring to win the Kentucky Derby.
Important High quality was the 4-1 betting favourite within the closing Kentucky Derby future wager pool final week and entered this week because the 7-2 Derby favourite on the William Hill sportsbook odds sheet.
Bourbonic upsets in Wooden Memorial
Bourbonic, educated by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Todd Pletcher, got here from the again of the nine-horse discipline to produce a stunner within the Wooden Memorial on Saturday at Aqueduct, successful the most important Derby prep at 72-1 odds.
The son of Bernardini — with Afleet Alex as his damsire — was racing in opposition to stakes firm for the primary time and most just lately completed 4 lengths behind fellow Wooden Memorial lengthy shot Market Maven in an non-obligatory claiming race in February.
Bourbonic earned 100 Derby qualifying factors for the race and caught stablemate Dynamic One — a 15-1 shot — simply earlier than wire.
Dynamic One earned 40 qualifying factors, and that may be sufficient to place the Pletcher-trained colt within the Derby beginning gate. The son of Union Rags broke his maiden on his fourth strive in his most up-to-date begin on March 7.
The Wooden Memorial exacta paid $453 on a $1 guess.
Pletcher, who gained the Kentucky Derby with Tremendous Saver in 2011 and All the time Dreaming in 2017, additionally gained the Florida Derby with Identified Agenda final week, and that colt ought to be one of many high Derby contenders at Churchill Downs on Might 1.
The Chad Brown-trained Crowded Commerce was third within the Wooden Memorial, with Gotham Stakes winner Weyburn coming in fourth.
Rock Your World takes Santa Anita
The primary filth begin for Rock Your World was a serious success: a convincing victory within the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday to ascertain himself as a serious contender for the Kentucky Derby.
Rock Your World — a son of Sweet Experience — was 2-for-2 on the turf for coach John Sadler, who had been mulling a mud strive on the Derby path for his star colt earlier than lastly deciding to enter him within the Santa Anita Derby.
He didn’t disappoint, incomes a transparent victory over heavy race favourite Medina Spirit, who completed second for coach Bob Baffert. Dream Shake was third, and one other Baffert trainee, Defunded, completed fourth.
Rock Your World was the 5-1 third selection amongst bettors coming off a Feb. 27 victory on the turf within the Pasadena Stakes — simply his second profession begin — and had been working impressively over the Santa Anita filth within the mornings.
Medina Spirit, the 4-5 favourite for Baffert, raced close to the entrance and had each alternative to make a run on Rock Your World within the stretch, however he couldn’t catch him. He earned 40 further Kentucky Derby qualifying factors and is probably going headed to Churchill Downs on Might 1, with Baffert searching for his document seventh Derby victory.