04/08/2013 2:26PM

Keeneland: Chad Brown changing horses for Blue Grass

Coady Photography/Keeneland
Balance the Books, here winning the Bourbon last year, ran 11th in his 3-year-old debut, the March 23 Spiral Stakes over the Turfway Park Polytrack.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Chad Brown is swapping out Noble Tune in favor of Balance the Books for the Blue Grass Stakes, a move that changes up things in his own stable – but not the bulkiness of the field for the 89th running of the Keeneland showcase Saturday.

Keeneland officials are expecting more than the 14-horse limit when entries are drawn Wednesday at the annual media breakfast for the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass, a situation that likely will necessitate having an also-eligibles list for the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race.

Brown, the 34-year-old New Yorker who already has Wood Memorial runner-up Normandy Invasion as a major hopeful for the May 4 Kentucky Derby, said he decided to take Noble Tune off the Derby trail after the colt breezed five furlongs Sunday in 1:01.20 over the Keeneland Polytrack. At the same time, Brown is granting Balance the Books a reprieve despite the colt having finished an awful 11th in his 3-year-old debut, the March 23 Spiral Stakes over the Turfway Park Poly.

[BLUE GRASS STAKES: Get Keeneland PPs, watch video previews]

Noble Tune, runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last fall and a narrow winner of his only start at 3 in a Tampa Bay Downs turf allowance, “has had two works on Poly, and they just haven’t been up to par for me,” explained Brown. “I mean, he worked okay Sunday, but he just hasn’t taken to the Poly as I had hoped. We’re just going to keep him on the grass and run him in the American Turf,” a Grade 2 race on the May 3 Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs.

Conversely, Brown said he has been encouraged with the way Balance the Books has gotten over the Keeneland Poly. Beaten just a neck by Noble Tune when he was third in the BC Juvenile Turf last fall, the colt also breezed Sunday, getting a half-mile in 48.20 seconds.

“Obviously he tanked at Turfway, but he only ran for maybe half the race before he spit the bit, which isn’t like him,” he said. “He’s been at Keeneland ever since the day after that race, and I’ve decided to just draw a line through the Spiral. He’s better than that and deserving of one more chance.”

Noble Tune and Balance the Books were among a dozen or so weekend workers with designs on the Blue Grass. Two other top contenders, Charming Kitten (four furlongs in 50 seconds at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida) and Java’s War (five furlongs in 1:00.40 at Gulfstream Park), also worked Sunday, one day after no fewer than eight other Blue Grass candidates undertook serious breezes.

Among the Saturday workers were Demonic (seven furlongs at Betfair Hollywood Park in 1:27.60) and Eton Blue (four furlongs in 48.20 seconds at Palm Meadows). John Sadler, trainer of Demonic, told Keeneland officials over the weekend that he intended to ship the colt Tuesday on a charter flight from California, but only if it seemed assured the colt would make the race.

As many as 18 horses were under consideration as of Monday, meaning the race could be carded with as many as 16, including two also-eligibles. West Hills Giant (trained by John Terranova) and Channel Isle (D. Wayne Lukas) were among those confirmed for the race Monday.

Favoritism appears up for grabs in this wide-open renewal of the Blue Grass, with Uncaptured, Java’s War, Rydilluc, and the uncoupled Todd Pletcher pair of Charming Kitten and Palace Malice all likely to attract solid support.

The Blue Grass, which offers 100 points to the winner (and 170 overall) on the new eligibility system in use for the Kentucky Derby, anchors a great Saturday card that also will include the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley, Grade 1 Madison, Grade 3 Commonwealth, and Grade 3 Shakertown.

[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders with odds and video]

The Blue Grass will be part of a 90-minute broadcast on the NBC Sports Network. The show starts at 4:30 p.m. Eastern and also will include the Arkansas Derby. Tom Hammond anchors the coverage.

Keeneland is offering an all-stakes pick-four wager with a guaranteed pool of $250,000 Saturday. Race selection and order will be determined Wednesday.

dogsanddan More than 1 year ago
I'm not a trainer but if I had Noble Tune I would have tried him in the Arkansas Derby to see if he could run on dirt and then the Derby. This is a good horse. 3 first, 1 second in 4 tries! Not sure what's goin on here. Dan Slater
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why not give the horse a try on dirt. He's done little wrong so far. Don't get it.
rsac56 More than 1 year ago
Probably figures if the horse is not doing well on Poly, chances are he's not right. It's more likely he would run well on that than dirt. Just guessing.
m More than 1 year ago
He's a turf horse
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So is Animal Kingdom!
Charlie Pigg More than 1 year ago
The TV information shown above is incorrect. The broadcast is on NBC Network, not their Sport network.
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
Bob Welde More than 1 year ago
if the KDerby wants the 20 top dirt horses 4 the Derby they should not count points 4 turf or polytrack
B More than 1 year ago
A very valid point.
Jason Landman More than 1 year ago
Then Animal Kingdom would have never gotten into the race two years ago. Invalid point.
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
i think its more that they dont want sprinters taking up spots
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
What it is...cdi likes to stir the pot (not the stuff one smokes) for all the exposure it can mu$ter...for better or worse...twenty Horse field on that track is Absurd...its really Animal/Jockey Abuse...just hope all come home safe...ty...
michael stapler More than 1 year ago
That would HANDICAPPING, who is to say if a horse can't go 1 1/4 miles. It is all speculation.
Trent More than 1 year ago
Animal Kingdom says hi ; )
Ghostzapper More than 1 year ago
Animal Kingdom is an exception and could have definitely won a dirt prep for the Derby.
JHart More than 1 year ago
Wow..... Big of you to make an exception for him AFTER HE WON THE DERBY. What else has he done on dirt? Nada..... After the derby his success came on the sod and on the synthetic. Bottom line is..... Horses like this are the X factor and deserve a shot like anyone else.
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
Hes a FREAK!!!...Period...
RockaFelter21 More than 1 year ago
so does street sense who prepped in blue grass on poly and 2nd ny a nose!
Dave More than 1 year ago
Not only Animal Kingdom, but I believe Dullahan ran a very good race last year. Some horses can run on all 3 surfaces!
rsac56 More than 1 year ago
I've recently read that CD is a dirt track that is kind to Turf horses. Are there turf races for sophs that have Derby points, or is it just synthetic and dirt? I am curious.
B More than 1 year ago
This field looks like a Grade 2 race to me.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Actually all the KD's I've seen for the last 30 years don't seem like G1's either. 90% of the entrants turn out to be garbage, Most are entered for the owners glory , why not take a shot. I would too.
Joseph Bartelli More than 1 year ago
I'm so pumped for this day, it can't get here soon enough.
michael More than 1 year ago
Sorry, meant ashland
michael More than 1 year ago
Lets hope for a horse race and not a 1 1/8 sprint like the oaks. Javas War takes this heat.
Jake Football More than 1 year ago
call me crazy but I just do not see Java flying down the all weather poly to get a piece like he did in Tampa against Verrazano. What I would love his for him to toss a clunker and somehow still maintain enough points to slip into the derby at Bluegrass Cat odds when he finished second to Barbaro and completed a nice exacta.
Jason Landman More than 1 year ago
Can't wait for the Rydilluc coming out party.
Lisa More than 1 year ago
I can't wait either. I hope this colt runs a huge race!!!
Mike41279 More than 1 year ago
You can bring the drinks to the party.
Jason Landman More than 1 year ago
Lisa, Mike and I have started the Rydilluc Fan Club - applications are being accepted.
Mike41279 More than 1 year ago
Make room on the couch for me homie. I'll bring the chips and dip.
Jason Landman More than 1 year ago
Stacks of cash my friend, that's what we're going to win.
Mike41279 More than 1 year ago
To quote the great Ric Flair, "WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!"
Barry Irwin More than 1 year ago
Tha'st Rydilluculous.
Walfred Solorzano More than 1 year ago
Time to cash in!
JHart More than 1 year ago
I look forward to seeing this horse run. He's got a big shot in the Bluegrass. If he wins it and goes to the Derby, it will be very interesting. He's only ran on dirt once and it was not pretty. However, that was his first start and I would like to give him a pass on that effort. Guess we'll see.
rsac56 More than 1 year ago
Every year it is wise to watch the Derby works closely, especially as it relates to those "poly/turf" horses. Animal Kingdom and before him Giant's Causeway ran huge races in their dirt debuts at CD.
Francisco Pannaci More than 1 year ago
That's correct !!! And he's going to have some value, just because Prado is riding. When you look at Prado's stats he's got a much better win percentage than many of his fellow Blue Grass Riders.