Updated on 09/17/2011 11:17AM

Second-stringer Peace Rules seeks star status

Peace Rules is a major threat in Saturday's $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - In any other barn, Peace Rules would be the star. But since Peace Rules is trained by Bobby Frankel, who has the current Kentucky Derby favorite in Empire Maker, Peace Rules has been overlooked, and underappreciated.

Empire Maker's performance in the Florida Derby was one of the most impressive races this spring by any 3-year-old. Prior to that, however, he had won just once in three starts, against maidens.

Peace Rules, in contrast, has accomplished far more and has been much more consistent. He has won his last three starts, has won stakes on both dirt and turf, and owns victories at four different racetracks in three different time zones. He traveled to Fair Grounds for his last start and knocked off the hottest Derby prospect at that time, the previously unbeaten Badge of Silver, in the Louisiana Derby.

It's time to give Peace Rules his due. All we are saying is, give Peace a chance.

Peace Rules again could be overshadowed by his stablemate on Saturday, since both are running in important prep races for the Kentucky Derby. But Peace Rules should have the full attention of the crowd at Keeneland, where the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes will be run. Peace Rules has been favored just twice in his previous seven starts, and was a fat 9-1 in the Louisiana Derby, but he figures to be the favorite in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, where he will take on Badge of Silver and eight others over 1 1/8 miles.

Befitting Peace Rules's position in the pecking order in his barn, Frankel will be at Aqueduct on Saturday to saddle Empire Maker in the Wood Memorial, entrusting assistants Humberto Ascanio and Jose Cuevas to get the job done here.

Peace Rules, who arrived Wednesday night from California, drew post 2 in the 10-horse field. The post is a huge advantage on a track that should suit a colt with his front-running style. Badge of Silver should be lapped on him early after breaking from post 4. Great Notion, who might be the quickest of the front-runners, will take flight from post 6. "Ideally it would be great if he was the pacesetter Saturday," said Darrin Miller, the trainer of Great Notion.

The only surprise entrant was Acceptable Venture, who drew the rail. He is a winner of 1 of 5 starts, and was second in Turfway Park's Rushaway Stakes on March 22.

The Blue Grass is the middle leg of the national Big 3 Pick 3, which begins with the Wood and concludes with the Arkansas Derby from Oaklawn Park. It is the ninth race on a 10-race card that begins at 1:15 p.m. Eastern. The Blue Grass and the Arkansas Derby will be shown live by NBC Sports in a 90-minute telecast beginning at 4:30.

Badge of Silver will be attempting to make amends for a sixth-place finish as the favorite in the Louisiana Derby. Ronny Werner, the trainer of Badge of Silver, chose the Blue Grass instead of last week's Illinois Derby because he believes Keeneland's usual speed bias suits his colt, who won his first start at Keeneland exactly one year ago, on April 12.

"I thought the track surface would help. And the extra week doesn't hurt, either," Werner said.

Badge of Silver is owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who also have the longshot Ten Cents a Shine in the Blue Grass. Ten Cents a Shine is trained by D. Wayne Lukas. They are not coupled in the wagering because Kentucky racing rules allow for separate betting interests among horses with common ownership in races worth $100,000 or more. Brancusi and Lion Tamer, both owned by Michael Tabor but with different trainers, also will race as separate betting interests in the Blue Grass.

Brancusi drew post 9, which concerned his trainer, Patrick Biancone.

"The first turn will be the test," he said. "It's a little more difficult here with an outside post."

Brancusi was given special permission to gallop on the turf course between the second and third races on Thursday. Biancone was reluctant to train Brancusi on the main track the past two days because of its soggy condition. "You can do nothing with the way the track is," he said. The main track was muddy for racing on a chilly afternoon Thursday, but an improving forecast over the next 48 hours should leave the track fast and weather pleasant for Saturday's card.

Offlee Wild, like Badge of Silver, is trying to bounce back from a subpar race. He was fourth in the Fountain of Youth following his victory in the Holy Bull, then missed time with an illness.

"I think he's at full strength now," said T.V. Smith, who trains Offlee Wild. "I think you'll see the real horse on Saturday."



Purse: $750,000; 1 1/8 miles; Grade 1

1Acceptable VentureC. Perret12330-1
2Peace RulesE. Prado1238-5
3Offlee WildP. Day1236-1
4Badge Of SilverR. Albarado1232-1
5Crowned DancerK. Desormeaux12320-1
6Great NotionL. Melancon12312-1
7Ten Cents A ShineM. Smith12350-1
8Lion TamerC. Velasquez1238-1
9BrancusiT. Farina1238-1
10Lots Of SizzleJ. Lumpkins12350-1

Odds by Kristin Sadler

Television: Saturday, 4:30-6 p.m, NBC