2018 Bluegrass Stakes Predictions
Big field, Big Credentials
This may not be the flashiest group of three year-old Derby contenders, but it is easily the deepest. With 14 horses signed on to run, the Bluegrass has a total of five graded stakes winners, including three grade 1 winners, a grade two winner and a grade 3 winner. 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Good Magic is the morning line favorite as he tries to make amends for his third-place finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes March 3 at Gulfstream.
Meet the field
1-Zing Zang 30/1
2-Sporting Chance 10/1
3-California Night 30/1
5-Quip 6/1 (Scratched)
7-Blended Citizen 15/1
8-Gotta Go 30/1
9-Tiz Mischief 30/1
10-Free Drop Billy 5/1
11-Good Magic 2/1
15-(Also Eligible)Determinant 20/1 (*Will RUN as of 4/6*)
Sorting them out
With the scratch of Grade 2 winner Quip who will opt for the Arkansas Derby on April 14, the Bluegrass will still feature a 14-horse field. Early speed in the 1 1/8-mile event could be provided by a host of runners including Grade 1-winning sprinter Sporting Chance and longshot California Night – both of which will break from inside post positions. Machismo should be keen early from the outside. The remainder of the group consists of runners who prefer coming from just off, or well off the pace. Zing Zang, Marconi, Blended Citizen, Gotta Go, Tiz Mischief, Free Drop Billy, Arawak and Determinant all figure to be no closer than 4-6 lengths off the leaders after a half mile.
West coast shipper Kanthaka and Good Magic both have enough early speed to track the front runners and both are proven commodities at the graded stakes level. Both also have questions to answer. Kanthaka possesses a sprinter’s pedigree, but should improve with making just his second start around two turns.
The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee won the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes February 10 at Santa Anita going 7 furlongs before making his two-turn debut against the star-studded pair of McKinzie and Bolt d’Oro in the Grade 2 San Felipe where he was a well-beaten third. The Bluegrass distance is a question, but I expect this colt to be involved in the running every step of the way.
Good Magic ran an expectedly dull third in his seasonal debut, but he was likely not fully cranked for that race. His stellar workout March 31 at Palm Meadows (4 furlongs in 48 flat) suggests trainer Chad Brown has this guy ready to roll. If able to recapture the form he showed as a two year-old (100 Beyer Figure as a Juvenile) the rest of this field will be running for second.
Flameway is another horse with a high-cruising speed. The Mark Casse trainee beat the well-regarded Catholic Boy in the Sam F. Davis Stakes before running second to Quip in the Tampa Derby. The post position (12) doesn’t do him any favors, so jockey Jose Lezcano will likely have to gun from the opening bell to avoid being wide into the first turn. This colt is in good form and certainly has a chance to do a lot of running here.
With the Lexington weather forecast dicey for the April 7 Bluegrass, track conditions on race day will be paramount. Regardless of what the surface looks like when the gates open, this is a field defined by limitations. The only horse who has the look of a big-time Kentucky Derby contender is Good Magic, but he has plenty to prove after the uninspiring Fountain of Youth effort. I’m willing to give him a mulligan here as there is just not another horse in the field that captures my interest. I’ll take Good Magic and top, singling in the Pick 4 and rooting for chaos underneath in the trifecta.
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