Blue Grass by Matt Carothers

An Insider's Look Comments Off on Blue Grass by Matt Carothers
As great a race as the Blue Grass has been, with past winners including the likes of Northern Dancer, Riva Ridge, Alydar, Spectacular Bid, Holy Bull and a host of other notables, a Blue Grass winner has not won the Derby since Strike the Gold in 1991. Of course, Street Sense did capture the Roses in 2007 after finishing 2nd to Dominican in the Blue Grass as the odds-on favorite. The main reason that this prestigious race has not had the impact it once had on the Derby over the last 2 decades has little to do with the fact that Keeneland implemented a synthetic racing surface in 2007. I will say this: with the Derby run on dirt, it is very likely that we will be talking about how Strike the Gold was the last winner to also win on the first Saturday in May for some time to come. What is the excuse for the lack of success between 1992 and 2006? To me it is pretty simple. The Derby is a race that is very difficult to win on the front-end, and during the aforementioned years speed was very dominant. Perfect example of this is what Sinister Minister did in the last Blue Grass run on dirt in 2006. How about a wire to wire by more than 12 lengths, in which he set fractions of 22:4, 45:4, and 1:09:4 for the opening 6 furlongs. Not only is this year’s edition of the race going to make for great betting opportunities, it also becomes even more of a key Derby prep because of how underwhelming many have looked in most of the other preps. Everyone thought we had a potential Triple Crown winner in Uncle Mo and then everybody else. Well, after his performance in the Wood Memorial, he has definitely joined the ”everybody else.” Depending on what The Factor does in the Arkansas Derby we could easily have a 6-1 favorite on May 7th at Churchill. Time to break down the actual race: Santiva should be and will be the post time favorite. He is coming off a very solid 2nd in the Louisiana Derby, and as 2 year old, he ran 2nd at Keeneland in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity in his only try over the track. In a race that is so wide-open, I generally loathe going with "chalk" so I will pass. Sensational Slam at 10-1 on the line could end up being where my win wager ends up. He is lightly raced, improving each and every start, and has a tactical edge over many. He may get the lead over a fairly paceless bunch, and may be tough to run down on the stretch-out. Many of you know me for being a man of great integrity, who also happens to be as loyal as they come. That is why I will make Wilkinson my Blue Grass selection. I bet him in the Louisiana Derby as was surprised at how far back he was early on. He still managed to finish an ok 6th, and I expect him to be much more forwardly placed on Saturday. Being by Lemon Drop Kid I expect him to move up on both grass and synthetic, which I am hoping bodes well for a horse that has raced on conventional dirt in 5 of 6 lifetime starts.

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