04/14/2013 10:32AM

Kentucky Derby: Blue Grass, Arkansas Derby produce two starters apiece for Pletcher, McPeek

Coady Photography
Blue Grass winner Java's War (left), who earned an 89 Beyer Speed Figure, and runner-up Palace Malice (right) will both move on to the May 4 Kentucky Derby.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ken McPeek and Todd Pletcher swapped exactas, so to speak, in the two big Kentucky Derby prep races Saturday.

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

Both watched amid a bright and fading spring sun at Keeneland when Java’s War, trained by McPeek, overtook Palace Malice, trained by Pletcher, in the desperate final yards of the Blue Grass Stakes.

Turnabout was fair play less than an hour later when Overanalyze won the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park for Pletcher, with the McPeek-trained Frac Daddy finishing second. Both trainers watched that race on television monitors in the Keeneland grandstand.

All four horses are expected to run back in the May 4 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. McPeek said Sunday morning via Twitter that Java’s War came out of the race in fine shape, although the “trainer is exhausted.” He further thanked owner-breeder Charles Fipke for the opportunity to train Java’s War and said winning the Blue Grass in his hometown of Lexington was “special.”

Java’s War, by the late sire War Pass, earned an 89 Beyer Speed Figure with his neck victory. Interestingly, the figure was the slowest for the six stakes run at Keeneland on Friday and Saturday, with the others ranging from a 99 for Wise Dan in his Maker’s 46 Mile win on Friday to a 91 for Havelock in a five-horse photo finish in the Shakertown on Saturday.

Palace Malice was wheeled back by Pletcher and owner Dogwood Stable just two weeks after a troubled trip in the Louisiana Derby with the express intent of earning enough points to make the 20-horse cutoff for the Kentucky Derby. With 40 points, that mission was accomplished.

Pletcher also trains the third-place finisher in the Blue Grass, Charming Kitten, who earned 20 points, which has him 23rd on the points list as of Sunday. Ken Ramsey, the owner-breeder of Charming Kitten, said he is hopeful his colt can still make the Derby.

“We’ve all seen the way this can unfold,” said Ramsey. “There can be defections. We’re sending the colt to the hyperbaric chamber to get him reenergized. We’ll just wait and see what happens in the coming days.”

Two more “wild card” races, each worth 20 Derby points to the winner, are still to be run: the Coolmore Lexington on Saturday at Keeneland, and the April 26 Derby Trial at Churchill.

“Todd Pletcher might twist my arm and have us run back in the Derby Trial if we need a few more points to get in,” Ramsey said with a big laugh.

The most notable disappointment in the Blue Grass had to be Uncaptured, the colt who went 6 for 7 as a 2-year-old and was the morning-line favorite for the Blue Grass before being sent off the 5-1 fourth choice. Uncaptured stalked the pace from a good spot but faded to 10th, just behind his Mark Casse-trained stablemate, Dynamic Sky, who was not a factor when ninth at 9-1.

“Both horses are good,” Casse said Sunday morning. “The only thing hurt is our pride.”

Keeneland officials were elated with the turnout on a sunny afternoon that began quite chilly but gradually warmed up as the day wore on. The attendance of 37,161 was second-highest in track history, trailing only the 40,617 record set last year on Blue Grass Day.



fourroads910 More than 1 year ago
Baffert there is something wrong in the barn an the backers of Govenor Charlie ooohhm smells like problem
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
So Baffert is considering running Code West in the Lexington in an attempt to get him in the Derby?
sat.customer More than 1 year ago
B More than 1 year ago
The problem with this new system and fillies is that nearly none are pointed for the TC. For the most part, the few that have entered got in due to surprising their conditioners with just how good they are in the filly races they ran in, so they take a chance, which Pletcher might have done with Deaming of Julia this year. Few are pointed in this direction from the get go.
Jason Hart More than 1 year ago
Well the old system was flawed because the fillies could rack up easy graded earnings while facing nothing but fillies, which are mostly garbage. I do think Julia would be tough in the derby but she should go through the same qualifiers as everyone else.
rvraynmary More than 1 year ago
all this talk about times, Beyers figures, etc. reminds of a lesson I learned sometime ago about speed. Time without context is meaningless. stuckinarizona
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
dreaming of Julia could have run in one of the preps vrs the boys the connections preferred to go in a small field for filly's and the two top filly's ran one two.she could have run in the florida derby vrs orb and its my lucky day.
dino More than 1 year ago
we will never see a filly in the kd with this point system breeders dont wont fillys winning the kd.sorry for the breeders DREAMING OF JULIA will win the prkns
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
if any trainer or owner is willing to run their filly in the KT DY against the colts whats the big problem running the filly against the colts in the prep races. if there not willing to enter a prep race race like florida dy or wood ex, dont cry about the system later when the KY DY rolls around
John More than 1 year ago
K.D. Horse - Gov Charlie - will smoke.
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
its looking like thats going be bafferts only starter. # 21 & 22 on the list will prob get in the derby
John More than 1 year ago
Casse should take his two over-rated losers - and get them the hell back to Canada. He cant win big races in the states with real competition. Worst % numbers among the top 100. If he had to compete in the States year-round would not break the top 60 - 70.
Joel Winicki More than 1 year ago
You sound like a broken record............geez.
Oz Nelson More than 1 year ago
I believe at onetime they call this the sport of KINGS and now I think it's for Jacks or better or maybe not. Maybe Jokers seems to be the right call. Prep races now seem to be slower and those that are faster no one can believe. The need for speed seems to be dominated by the Fillies who rule and the colts drool for starting slot in the K D. The announcers make their picks some good some bad it's their opinion (and part of their job) and you know what they say about opinions it's like ?!?!?!? everyone has one. One opinion I took without a grain of salt was Jerry Bailey's when he mention one of the horses in the B.G. didn't seem to have grown much since he was a 2yr.old. That my friend was like Mastercard priceless info. As far as trainers and jockeys go they all have a job to do sometimes better then other and then sometimes not. Remember what they say about opinons take them with a grain of salt even if your on a low sodium diet and stay away from the pepper doctor. "AND WHO WILL WIN THE K.D.????????????? stay tune it will be coming to a T.V. near you".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I see only 3 Horse in the Derby to give any pace, Super 99 if he runs, Falling Sky and Will Take Charge...Anybody else??