04/11/2011 2:43PM

Blue Grass Stakes to have three from Pletcher

Tom Keyser
Sensational Slam, Ramon Dominguez up, wins the Capossella.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Todd Pletcher won the Blue Grass Stakes in 2005 with Bandini and in 2008 with Momba, but it’s only coincidence that he will try to sustain that every-three-years pattern and shoot for his third Blue Grass victory by running three horses Saturday in the Keene­land showcase.

Pletcher will send out the trio of Queen’splatekitten, Sensational Slam, and Praetereo in the 87th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass, a 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race that traditionally serves as a key prep for the Kentucky Derby. All three Pletcher horses had their final prerace workouts Sunday over a fast track at Churchill Downs under the watchful eye of assistant Michael McCarthy.

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

“I thought they all went very well,” said McCarthy. “We should be ready to go.”

Pletcher, the five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer who won the Derby last year with Super Saver, has Uncle Mo as his main threat and also hopes to run Stay Thirsty in the 137th Derby on May 7 at Churchill. Pletcher won the Illinois Derby on Saturday with Joe Vann but said that colt is not likely for the Derby and might not qualify on earnings anyway.

Earnings won’t be a problem for the winner of the Blue Grass, for which Keeneland racing officials are expecting a big field of 3-year-olds – perhaps as many as the full-gate limit of 14 – when entries are drawn Wednesday at a media breakfast at the track. Santiva is the probable favorite in a lineup also expected to include Crimson China, King Congie, Newsdad, Swift Warrior, Wilkinson, and Willcox Inn.

Queen’splatekitten, who breezed a half-mile in 48.40 seconds, easily won a maiden race on Polytrack at Woodbine in December and most recently was second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes on the Gulfstream Park turf. “We’re thinking he’ll really take to the Poly at Keeneland,” said McCarthy.

Sensational Slam (five furlongs, 1:00.20), 2 for 2 on Polytrack, will stretch out off a victory in the six-furlong Caposella on the Aqueduct inner track. “The mile and an eighth is uncharted territory, so we’re hoping he can get it,” said McCarthy.

Praetereo (half-mile, 48.40), a last-out maiden winner on the Gulfstream dirt in his sixth career start, was in the news recently as a Palm Meadows workmate for Uncle Mo. “He’s been a little slow to come to hand, but he ran a decent number [84 Beyer Speed Figure] last time,” said McCarthy. “We’re trying to find where he belongs.”

The Pletcher threesome will be uncoupled for wagering purposes in the Blue Grass, which will be televised live on TVG. Video of the race, and every stakes race at the Keeneland meet, will also be available free on DRF.com. The long-range weather forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of rain and a high of just 48.

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