04/12/2011 2:11PM

Blue Grass Stakes: King Congie looks to honor his namesake at Keeneland

Coady Photography/Keeneland
King Congie will try to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby in Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 137th Kentucky Derby already has one feel-good story in Mucho Macho Man, whose trainer, Kathy Ritvo, has overcome major illness to become a natural root-for. And now the Derby could get a similar heart-tugger if King Congie runs well enough Saturday in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

King Congie (pronounced CON-jee), owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, is named for the late Congie DeVito, who died in February at age 35 after suffering throughout his life with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, more commonly known as brittle bone disease.

DeVito was the first employee for West Point, working for about 12 years as the communications director before his death.

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“You can’t say enough good about Congie, all that he brought to the world despite the tremendous adversity he faced,” West Point president Terry Finley said.

King Congie, trained by Tom Albertrani, has developed into a turf standout – and turf horses have been known to succeed on Polytrack, over which the Blue Grass will be run at 1 1/8 miles.

King Congie, by Badge of Silver, won a maiden race at Aqueduct and the Tropical Park Derby at Calder before finishing first and being disqualified to third in the Hallandale Beach at Gulfstream. The colt was entered in the March 26 Vinery Spiral at Turfway but was scratched after straining a muscle in his hind end the morning before. But the injury proved not serious, and he soon resumed training, with his final major preparation for the $750,000 Blue Grass coming here Monday with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.60 over Polytrack.

Like most of the Blue Grass field, King Congie needs to win Saturday to assure himself a place in the gate for the May 7 Derby at Churchill Downs.

“If he wins, I’m sure we’d go,” Finley said.

King Congie will be part of what is expected to be a bulky field for the 87th Blue Grass. Santiva, who arrived Sunday from south Florida, is the probable favorite, with other major contenders including Crimson China, Newsdad, Swift Warrior, Wilkinson, Willcox Inn, and three horses trained by Todd Pletcher.

The Blue Grass is one of four stakes set for a huge Saturday card. Also on tap are the Grade 2, $200,000 Jenny Wiley; the Grade 2, $175,000 Commonwealth; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Shakertown. All Saturday entries were to be drawn Wednesday.

Mr. Threewitt has lot to live up to

Noble Threewitt was a legend as a horse trainer and human being on the Southern California circuit, so when Michael Jawl named a horse in his honor, “I told Michael he sure put a lot of pressure on me,” a laughing Chuck Peery said.

Peery will send out a 2-year-old colt named Mr. Threewitt in the second race Thursday at Keeneland. Purchased as a yearling by Jawl for $80,000 here last fall, the son of Rock Hard Ten was assigned the inside post in a field of 11 juveniles, all of them making their career debuts.

Threewitt, who died last September at age 99, trained horses for 75 years and was as revered a figure as there is in racing.

“I was lucky enough to be stabled next to Mr. Threewitt for a few years,” Peery said. “He was one of a kind, a very special guy. He did so much to help the backside employees, getting the doctor to come in, the dentist. That all started because of him. Noble trained for Michael and his father and uncle for a long time. Michael was pretty close to Mr. Threewitt.”

Mr. Threewitt (the horse) shows seven workouts at Keeneland since early February, three of them bullets.

“It’d be nice to see him run a big one,” Peery said.

Dancinginherdreams plans on hold

Dancinginherdreams, ninth and last in the Ashland Stakes here Saturday as the 2-1 second choice, has trainer John T. Ward Jr. scratching his head.

“We’re just dropping back and trying to figure out whether or not to throw the race out,” Ward said. “She keeps lightening up on us, weight-wise, and we’re trying to determine why that’s happening. But we haven’t made any kind of firm decision on how to proceed.”

Dancinginherdreams ended her 2-year-old season as one of the most exciting prospects for the 2011 Kentucky Oaks but now has lost all three of her starts this year.

One other filly who did not fare particularly well in the Ashland, Delightful Mary, remains under Oaks consideration. Trainer Mark Casse said that despite a seventh-place finish at Keeneland, the filly will ship next week to Churchill to determine how she takes to the track.

Looking for spots for Ingenue

Dogwood Stable and trainer Neil Howard are excited about a 2-year-old filly named Ingenue, whose victory as a 6-5 “good thing” in a full field of 12 here last Thursday confirmed the promise she showed in morning training and in the Aiken Trials in South Carolina last month.

“There’s not much out there for her now, but we’ll be looking around,” Howard said. “There might be an allowance for her at Churchill after a few more 2-year-olds break their maidens and before they run the [June 25] Debutante. I was just happy to see her run the way she did.”

Ingenue is by Mr. Greeley and is the first foal out of Meadow Breeze, winner of the Grade 1 Matron at Belmont in 2006. She was a $155,000 Keeneland yearling purchase.

Court Vision draws the rail

Court Vision was assigned the inside post among a field of eight older turf horses in the Friday feature, the Grade 1, $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile. Court Vision, an earner of more than $2.6 million, will be ridden by Robby Albarado.

From the hedge, this is the entire field: Court Vision, Zifzaf, Bim Bam, Workin for Hops, Get Stormy, Society’s Chairman, Turallure, and Furthest Land.

◗ Keeneland has announced that the combined three-day attendance of 62,527 for opening weekend was a record. The attendance Friday was 22,747; Saturday, 23,155; and Sunday, 16,625.

Also, the college scholarship promotion on opening day attracted more than 5,000 registered students, according to Keeneland and the event co-sponsor, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association.