04/04/2015 7:08PM

Carpe Diem delivers as favorite in Blue Grass

Coady Photography
Carpe Diem and jockey John Velazquez win the Blue Grass Stakes by three lengths Saturday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – All the pieces are in place. Carpe Diem completed the abbreviated racing schedule mapped out for him by trainer Todd Pletcher in a dominating victory Saturday at Keeneland in the Blue Grass Stakes and now heads to the 141st Kentucky Derby as one of the favorites.

Getting a perfect trip under John Velazquez, Carpe Diem won the Grade 1, $1 million Blue Grass by three lengths as a prohibitive favorite in a field of eight 3-year-olds, finishing the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:49.77 over a fast track. He paid $2.80 with his fourth victory from five career starts.

Danzig Moon was second, another 2 1/2 lengths before Ocho Ocho Ocho, with Frammento rallying belatedly to finish fourth by another 1 3/4 lengths.

Asked whether he believes Carpe Diem, by Giant’s Causeway, has what it takes to win the Derby, Pletcher said: “I do. The pedigree is there, and the colt has trained exceptionally well all winter. There are a lot of things that tell us yes.”

Well behaved in the post parade and in the gate, Carpe Diem broke sharply and settled into a nice rhythm almost immediately while settling alongside early leader Ocho Ocho Ocho while clear of the others. In the far turn, he maintained the look of a winner, and after being set down for the drive, he glided away, opening a sizable lead in midstretch with Velazquez merely hand-riding.

“There wasn’t much speed in there,” said Velazquez. “It was a nice, slow pace, and he was doing it easy.”

Carpe Diem was purchased last year for $1.6 million by the partnership of Stonestreet Stables and WinStar Farm. After winning two of three starts at 2, including the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity here last fall, he began his 3-year-old campaign with a five-length triumph in the March 7 Tampa Bay Derby. The Blue Grass will be his only other race before the May 2 Derby at Churchill Downs.

Carpe Diem earned another 100 qualifying points toward Derby eligibility, while the second- through fourth-place finishers earned 40, 20, and 10.

Pletcher and WinStar president Elliott Walden said they would discuss a training regimen in the weeks leading up to the Derby for Carpe Diem, saying there’s a possibility that the colt could be returned to his winter base of Palm Beach Downs in south Florida, “or maybe stay here or even go over to Churchill after a couple weeks. We’ll see,” Walden said.

:: DERBY WATCH: Top 20 from Jay Privman and Mike Watchmaker

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

Mark Casse, the trainer of Danzig Moon, said from Florida that he would “have to talk it over” with owner John Oxley in regard to running back in the Derby, adding: “I would definitely be leaning that way.”

Nick Zito, the trainer of Frammento, said he would be very interested in running in the Derby if his colt had enough points. “We’ll hang out,” said Zito.

This was the third Blue Grass victory for Pletcher, who won it in 2005 with Bandini and 2008 with Monba. Velazquez’s lone prior Blue Grass win came with Bandini.

Pletcher and Velazquez both have won the Derby once before: Pletcher with Super Saver in 2010 and Velazquez with Animal Kingdom the following year.

The $2 exacta (5-8) paid $18, the $1 trifecta (5-8-1) returned $31, and the 10-cent superfecta (5-8-1-6) was worth $14.19.

The all-graded-stakes pick five ending with the Blue Grass (6-2-4-6-5) paid $496.15 for a 50-cent wager.

Attendance on a sunny and cool afternoon was 26,357, although thousands of those fans had departed by the time the Blue Grass was run in order to watch the Final Four basketball games.

Mike Mcdevitt More than 1 year ago
ha ted I like cerpe diens
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
I have a feeling Danzig Moon is going to be a horse to watch for in future races because he came from far behind and practically breezed to get second.
Vic Cherenzia More than 1 year ago
Carpe Diems performance in the Bluegrass was a walk in the park. is running style is perfect for the Kentucky Derby as long as he doesn't get into trouble, it looks like it's going to run a big one.
Vic Cherenzia More than 1 year ago
American Pharaoh is a good horse but beat absolutely nothing in the slop at Oaklawn
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
With all of the slow pace during these Derby preps we may see a lone speed wire to wire winner...American Pharoah..slow pace in Oaklawn, Matetiality..slow in Florida Derby, Frosted ran well closing into another slow pace..Mubjabiid...miss speelled..beat nothing in Dubai.International Star again..slow against week fields. If we get a duel...I think Frosted or even Frammento have a shot. Very even looking race right now. Actually have to wait and see who likes Churchill..Dortmund is only proven winner there. He looks toughest to me as he seems to be playing still.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
I will say however...Carpe Diem is one improving very fast...but against who??? Has he beaten any stakes winners yet??
Jeris More than 1 year ago
888 is a G3 winner and a 100k stakes winner. Ocean's Knight is a G3 winner. Them are just off the top of my head, there might be more.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Carpe diem lost by 7 1/2 lengths to Texas red in the breeders cup. That should tell you something !!
Jeris More than 1 year ago
I don't get why people are looking at times and complaining about Carpe Diem? He wasn't dictating the speed, just hanging right behind 888 so of course he's going to want slow fractions and when the time came on the stretch, he pulled away while barely giving it much. Definite derby contender in my books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If he works well over CD strip and gets a good draw he's my key horse. not using Dortmund/American Pharaoh on top not even using AP in 2nd slot Not sure about Dortmund yet Girl Trouble
Debbie Gardner More than 1 year ago
I would hope they ship him early to Churchill, get him settled in and work over the track. I never did understand why some trainers ship in a few days prior to a race, but that's why they are trainers I guess.
Allan Gauthier More than 1 year ago
I agree If he go's to Churchill, he'd be the home team horse.
Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
Usually when the trainer has shipped in before in just a few days and it's worked is when we see this. Their thinking is keep him comfortable in his home and make him think it's just a business trip. Not saying I agree, because I think it's always smart to get in early at any track. Every trainer thinks his own way.
Michael Jacob More than 1 year ago
its a great thing to see all these horses peaking at the right time getting ready for the derby.
Greg Stevens More than 1 year ago
The crowd was weird today...u couldn't move it was so packed, then after the 6th race half the people left and it was actually comfortable....I don't even wanna think of them trying to fit 50,000 for the breeders cup....
Joey W More than 1 year ago
And you won't. Only letting 12,000 in for Breeders Cup.
Michael Infurna More than 1 year ago
3 yo filly race won by Lovely Maria went just as fast, Another horse who beat nothing on an easy lead!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't watch the filly race, but the early fractions in the Blue Grass were pretty slow. The track wasn't that fast, but Carpe Diem still finished strongly. I know one of the old angles was getting 3 preps prior to the Derby and Carpe Diem only used two, but there is also the 3rd race off a layoff angle that plays pretty well these days. I think the pedigree says yes to the distance and CD should be peeking at the right time.
jay More than 1 year ago
The only thing Carpe Diem will be peeking at is Dortmund's rear end.
flash gordon More than 1 year ago
good one LoL