2015 Blue Grass Stakes Picks with Odds and Expert Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 4/2/2015
The Blue Grass Stakes, a major Kentucky Derby prep race run on Saturday at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky, was essentially irrelevant from 2007 until this year. Over that time it was run on the synthetic surface that Keeneland installed. Bettors learned the hard way that form on that surface didn't mean anything at all when transferred to the dirt of the Kentucky Derby. Suddenly a race with a rich history that had given us Derby winners like Tomy Lee, Lucky Debonair, the immortal Northern Dancer, Riva Ridge, Spectacular Bid and others had turned into an afterthought. Mercifully, Keeneland came to their senses and went back to dirt this year. Here's hoping that the past glory can be restored.
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A winner of this race has not gone on to win a Triple Crown race since Prairie Bayou won the Preakness in 1993.
This is probably the weakest field of the three major prep races being run this weekend - the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial are the others. It has one potential superstar in the field, though - and that is already more than could have been said about the last several years. At the very least this should be an interesting race - which, again, is a big improvement on the recent past.
The field is not a huge one. I have some respect for a few horses - Frammento is perhaps a little interesting, for example. Ultimately, though, the race boils down to two horses in my eyes. One is the clear class of the field, and the other is a talented but inconsistent youngster that I have a bit of an obsession with - a costly one.
Carpe Diem (even money): Todd Pletcher has had such dismal success at the Kentucky Derby that I reflexively look away from his horses at this time of year. He's typically better in the preps than the big race, though, and this is a horse I can get behind better than many of his. He has four career starts to his credit. That's not many, but for Pletcher, who loves to coddle three year olds and leave them too raw on the first Saturday in May, that's a veteran. It's been an impressive career, too.
After breaking his maiden at Saratoga in his first try, he dominated the Breeders' Futurity on this same Keeneland track. The switch to dirt had happened by then, so we know this surface works for him. Then he was a solid second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. After a layoff he came back to win the Tampa Bay Derby impressively early in March. He likely has a spot in the Derby already sewn up, but now he has a chance to make a statement - and maybe even vie for Derby favoritism if he wins big and a couple of others falter this weekend and next.
I like the horse. I don't love the price, but I don't have a strong enough feeling about anyone else in the field to look elsewhere. Often in these big preps you just have to accept low prices and make the best of them. That's the case in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday with Dortmund, and it is here as well. Carpe Diem is my pick.
Ocho Ocho Ocho (6/1): This horse owes me money. After a very nice win in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes in November, I was sitting happily on the bandwagon of this horse. Dortmund was bet down heavily in his next race, the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita, so I happily backed third choice Ocho Ocho Ocho at a nicer price. I thought I had a chance. I might have if the horse had shown up. He was a complete non-factor, winding up a flattering eighth. Was that a fluke? Did he need some more work after the layoff before showing up for a race? Or is he just not quite good enough. He's a son of Derby winner Street Sense out of a mare by the great South African champion Horse Chestnut. That means that he has no shortage of stamina. I don't think he's as good as Carpe Diem right now, but I'll factor him in my bets somehow just in case he shows some of that potential that captured my imagination last fall.
Raphael Esparza will be handicapping the Blue Grass Stakes, the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial this weekend. Esparza is one of the best horse racing handicappers in the nation, and he is expecting a big payday this weekend and throughout the Road to the Kentucky Derby. He scored a big profit two weeks ago in the Spiral Stakes with $20 across the board on a 16-1 long shot, and he expects more profits this weekend. Get his weekend picks for all three races here for only $30, or new clients can take advantage of Doc's no-hassle $60 free picks offer and get Esparza's weekend racing picks and still have a $30 credit to use for any picks from any handicapper on the site. Click here for $60 worth of free picks.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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