04/09/2011 1:11PM

Blue Grass Stakes candidates get in workouts

Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs
Santiva, Shaun Bridgmohan up, wins the Kentucky Jockey Club.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Santiva completed his major preparations for the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes by breezing five furlongs in a minute flat Saturday morning at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida.

The likely favorite for the Keeneland showcase, Santiva was scheduled to arrive here Sunday or Monday by van for the $750,000 race that looks to have a a bulky field on Saturday, April 16.

"The horse worked unbelievably well," said trainer Eddie Kenneally. "We're ready to go. I'm very happy with him."

Santiva is one of at least 13 3-year-olds expected when entries for the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race are taken Wednesday. As many as 14 can start.

KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

Two other Blue Grass hopefuls also tuned up Saturday: Willcox Inn, with Rosie Napravnik up, went six furlongs, handily, in 1:12.40 in company over the Keeneland Poly, while Joes Blazing Aaron breezed five furlongs in 59.80 seconds over the dirt surface at the Trackside training center in Louisville.

Other tentatively scheduled Blue Grass works include the Todd Pletcher trio of Queen’splatekitten, Sensational Slam, and Praetereo at Churchill Downs on Sunday, and King Congie at Keeneland on Monday with Rajiv Maragh aboard.

The Blue Grass anchors by far the busiest week of stakes at the 15-day spring meet. Thursday brings the Grade 1 Vinery Madison; Friday is the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile; the Blue Grass undercard also includes the Grade 2 Commonwealth, Grade 2 Jenny Wiley, and Grade 3 Shakertown; and Sunday wraps it up with the Grade 2 Beaumont.

◗ Casper’s Touch earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 78 in winning a first-level allowance Friday, opening day, by three lengths. Trainer Ken McPeek said the colt could run back in 15 days in the April 23 Coolmore Lexington Stakes or wait an extra week for the Derby Trial on opening night at Churchill. Both are Grade 3 races worth $200,000.

◗ The first pick five wager ever offered at Keeneland drew a handle of $82,593 on opening day, a solid amount in consideration of its newness. Each winning 50-cent ticket returned $7,321.60. The pick five will be held on the last five races daily, with a carryover resulting in case of no perfect winners.

By comparison, the late pick four on opening day drew a handle of $238,109. TVG guarantees a $200,000 pool every Friday of the meet. The late pick four on Blue Grass Day will be guaranteed at $250,000.

◗ While ontrack attendance on opening day was 22,747, thousands were college students who apparently didn’t bet all that much: ontrack handle was just $1,444,093, for a per-capita of about $63. All-sources handle was $8,117,921.

◗ The start of the last race Friday was delayed by about eight minutes after a would-be first-time starter named Miss Reve, who was 77-1 at the time, disrupted things by acting up badly in the gate, necessitating her being a late scratch.