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Theregoesjojo to join Blue Grass
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Theregoesjojo will run back just two weeks after finishing third to Quality Road and Dunkirk in the Florida Derby when he becomes part of a sizable field likely to clash Saturday in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
Trainer Ken McPeek said he had numerous reasons to buck convention by wheeling back so quickly.
"He came out of the Florida Derby in great shape," said McPeek. "I'm anxious to try him on the synthetic, and the race doesn't seem to be coming up that deep. I babied the horse all winter, treated him like a piece of china, so I still have a lot of horse. The two horses that beat him in the Florida Derby are monsters, and the Blue Grass is a pretty special race in its own right."
At least 11 3-year-olds are under consideration for the Grade 1 Blue Grass, for which entries were to be drawn Wednesday. Most of them, including Theregoesjojo, need a good finish - and the graded earnings - to advance to the May 2 Kentucky Derby, although Hold Me Back and Mafaaz already can claim Derby berths.
Calvin Borel will have the mount on Theregoesjojo, who was second to Quality Road in the Fountain of Youth before the March 28 Florida Derby. Theregoesjojo worked a half-mile in 48 seconds Monday morning over the Keeneland Polytrack.
Patena, trained by Rick Dutrow, also worked Monday on the Keeneland Poly, going five furlongs in a minute.
Theregoesjojo and Patena figure to be in the mix of favoritism in the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass, along with Hold Me Back, Charitable Man, and Terrain. Other likely starters include Cliffy's Future, General Quarters, Join in the Dance, Mafaaz, and Massone.
Hello Broadway is possible to run, although trainer Barclay Tagg said he is more likely to go Friday in a Keeneland allowance. Also, trainer Dale Romans said Ziegfeld most likely will run instead Saturday in the Arkansas Derby.
The Blue Grass anchors a huge week of action at Keeneland, as eight stakes, all but one graded, will be run Wednesday through Saturday. TVG has exclusive coverage of all the races.
Ventura has no easy task in defense attempt
Ventura will be back to defend her title in the Vinery Madison Stakes, the Thursday feature at Keeneland, and this time she has a Breeders' Cup victory to her credit, having captured the Filly and Mare Sprint last October at Santa Anita.
And yet Ventura is no cinch in the $300,000 Madison, which is being run as a Grade 1 for the first time after being upgraded over the winter. Among her six opponents in the seven-furlong Polytrack race are Informed Decision, who was sensational in winning the Grade 2 Raven Run here last fall for Jonathan Sheppard, and Bsharpsonata, the versatile and durable filly who has been in good form in southern California for Todd Pletcher.
Ventura, trained by Bobby Frankel, has raced twice since the Breeders' Cup. A 5-year-old mare, she won the Grade 1 Santa Monica on Jan. 31, then was beaten a nose when facing male rivals in the Grade 1 Kilroe Handicap on the Santa Anita turf March 7. Garrett Gomez has ridden her in all nine of her North American starts and will be back aboard Thursday.
From the rail, this is the Madison field: Informed Decision, Proud Heiress, Dubai Majesty, Ventura, Authenicat, Bear Now, and Bsharpsonata.
Eight likely for Maker's Mark
At least eight older turf horses are likely for the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile on Friday, according to the Keeneland's stakes coordinator, Tia Murphy. Prospects for the $300,000 turf race are Cosmonaut, Fluke, House of Silver, Just as Well, Mr. Sidney, Passager, Thorn Song, and Twilight Meteor.
The $100,000 Fort Harrod, run at 1 5/8 miles on the Polytrack, also is set for Friday.
Besides the Blue Grass, three other stakes are on tap for Saturday: the Grade 2, $250,000 Commonwealth Stakes; the $200,000 Grade 2 Jenny Wiley; and the Grade 3, $100,000 Shakertown.
There will be no racing here Sunday because of the Easter holiday.
Lanerie catches break
One jockey's untimely illness became another jockey's window of opportunity. Rene Douglas had a bad reaction to an energy drink midway through the Saturday program, forcing him to take off all mounts after the fourth race. That allowed Corey Lanerie to pick up the mount on the victorious Hooh Why in the $400,000 Ashland Stakes.
"It was lucky for Corey and not too good for us," said Dennis Cooper, the longtime agent for Douglas, who was back in action Sunday. "But it's only one race."
Meanwhile, Mark Hoffman, co-owner of Hooh Why, said he and partner Gail Gee likely will pass the Kentucky Oaks with the well-traveled filly, saying the May 15 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico or the May 23 American 1000 Guineas at Arlington Park are more likely destinations.
Also, Rick Dutrow, trainer of Stardom Bound, said Sunday he will need time to evaluate whether the reigning divisional champion will run back in the May 1 Oaks. Stardom Bound was third in the Ashland as the odds-on favorite.
The Saturday attendance of 30,550 was fifth-highest in track history. The highest attendance was set two years ago, when 33,821 turned out for the Coolmore Lexington Stakes.
Big weekend for top jocks
Several jockeys enjoyed terrific starts to the meet, most notably Julien Leparoux and Kent Desormeaux. Leparoux, a three-time Keeneland champion, won five races on the three-day weekend despite missing Saturday to ride at Oaklawn Park, while Desormeaux, the leading rider here last spring, won four races Saturday and just barely missed a fifth.
Among Leparoux's winning mounts was Furthest Land, who got a great stalking trip before rallying to win the Sunday feature, a $67,000 allowance, over Wicked Style. Furthest Land now has won 4 of 5 starts since being claimed for $35,000 by Mike Maker for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
In another Sunday race of note, Golden Mexico upset heavily favored Affirmatif in a $54,000 turf allowance, his North American debut for Team Valor International, the ownership syndicate that bought the colt in partnership following a win last September in Italy.
Ward juveniles shining
Trainer Wesley Ward, who has wowed Keeneland fans by winning the first two 2-year-old races of the meet, has entered a pair of live-looking colts in trying to win the third one.
Ward will be represented in the first race Thursday by the uncoupled entry of Foot the Bill, whom he owns solo, and Dp the Facilitator, co-owned by renowned basketball commentator Dick Vitale and the Ol Memorial Stable of basketball coach Rick Pitino.
Ward trainees Jealous Again and Aegean won the first 2-year-old races by 11 1/4 and 3 1/2 lengths, respectively.
** The two jackpot wagers available at Keeneland both have carried over to Wednesday. The pick six will start with $17,269, and the super high five with $14,208.