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Blue Grass Stakes

About the Blue Grass Stakes

Named after the famous region that shares the same name, the Blue Grass Stakes have run since 1911. Going back to its earliest days, this special contest has served as an important prep race for the Kentucky Derby and currently offers a split of 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers along with a share of the $1 million purse. This race has always covered a distance of 1 1/8th miles.

The Blue Grass Stakes was initially run at the Kentucky Association track from 1911 through 1914 and 1919 through 1926. When that track closed its doors, it took a decade before the Blue Grass Stakes could be resurrected at the newly constructed Keeneland Racetrack. It has been hosted by this site ever since.

The speed record is currently owned by Skip Away, who won the 1996  Blue Grass Stakes in 1:47.20. Only two other horses have come close to matching that pace. Dullahan was clocked at 1:47.94 in 2012 while Hallory Hunter hit 1:47.80 in 1998.

Five trainers currently share the distinction of most wins in the Blue Grass Stakes. This includes Ben Jones, Woody Stephens, LeRoy Jolley, Nick Zito and Todd Pletcher. The winningest jockey is the legendary Hall of Famer Bill Shoemaker, who has tallied six victories in the Blue Grass Stakes.

Alydar owns the widest margin of victory with 13 lengths during the 1978 Blue Grass Stakes.

The largest upset in the history of the Blue Grass Stakes occurred in 2010 when Stately Victor returned $82.20 as a 30/1 longshot over the favorite Pleasant Prince, who finished 7th overall. Paddy o’Prado was the runner-up in that renewal.

Twenty-three Blue Grass Stakes winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby, but the most recent was Strike the Gold in 1991. The second most recent is Spectacular Bid, who won the 1979 Blue Grass Stakes and 1979 Kentucky Derby.

Other notable horses to have scored in the Blue Grass Stakes include leading sire Pulpit, 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull and Hall of Fame champion Norther Dancer. Major Derby, who won the 1975 Preakness Stakes, also won the Blue Grass Stakes.

In 1974, the Blue Grass Stakes was introduced as a Grade I stakes race and held that standard up until 1990 when it was relegated to Grade II. In 1999 it regained its Grade I status, but has since run as a Grade II stakes race since 2017.

From 2007-2014, the Blue Grass Stakes was run on a synthetic surface.