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Blue Grass Stakes Race History

Blue Grass Historical Facts

First run in 1911, the Blue Grass Stakes is one of only three Kentucky Derby prep race hosted by historic Keeneland. It is one of the largest on the circuit, offering a $1,000,000 purse and 100-40-20-10 derby points to the top four finishers. It is currently restricted to three-year-olds and is listed as a Grade-II race.

Historically, the Blue Grass Stakes has produced ten Kentucky Derby winners but none since 1991. A plethora of winners from one of Keeneland’s biggest races have gone on to have marvelous careers, and find success in the Triple Crown overall.

  • The 2002 Blue Grass Stakes winner was Harlan’s Holiday, who entered the Kentucky Derby as a 6/1 favorite due to another win in the Florida Derby. He finished seventh, and then went on to finish fourth in the Preakness Stakes. Both times he lost to War Emblam.
  • Menifee was the 1999 Blue Grass Stakes winner and finished second to Charismatic in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
  • Skip Away is a notable Blue Grass Stakes winner as well, having won the 1996 renewal. He would go on to finish extremely poorly in the Kentucky Derby but came back to finish a respectable second in both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
  • Holy Bull won the 1994 Blue Grass Stakes, Florida Derby, Haskell, Travers and Woodward but failed to strike in the Kentucky Derby as an even money favorite. He would finish 12th well behind Alydar.
  • Prairie Bayou won the 1993 Blue Grass Stakes and then went on to the Kentucky Derby as the 3/1 favorite. He fell short, placing second behind Sea Hero. He did, however win the Preakness Stakes. During the Belmont Stakes he sadly broke down and had to be euthanized.
  • Strike the Gold was the most recent horse to score the double by winning the 1991 Blue Grass Stakes and the Kentucky Derby, where he took down the 3/1 favorite Hansel.
  • Summer Squall won the Blue Grass Stakes in 1990 and entered the Kentucky Derby as the second choice behind Mister Frisky. Both were upset by Unbridled. However, Summer Squall would also go on to win the Preakness Stakes.
  • Chief’s Crown is infamously known as one of just three horses to lose all three legs of the Triple Crown as the betting favorite. He claimed the lead on the board by winning the 1985 Blue Grass Stakes. He finished third in the Kentucky Derby as a 1/5 favorite, then came second in the Preakness and third again in the Belmont.
  • Honest Pleasure won the 1976 Blue Grass Stakes prior to scoring in the Florida Derby. He came second in the Kentucky Derby as a massive favorite.
  • Master Derby won the 1975 Louisiana Derby, Lexington Stakes, Blue Grass Stakes and the Preakness Stakes. He was fourth in the Kentucky Derby that year and also finished third in the Belmont Stakes.
  • Riva Ridge was sensational in winning the 1972 Blue Grass Stakes, he came through as a 9/5 favorite in the Kentucky Derby. He was a heavy 1/5 favorite in the Preakness Stakes as well, but fell short in tough conditions though he came back to win the Belmont Stakes.
  • Dust Commander may have not won a lot of races, but he was the victor in both the 1970 Blue Grass Stakes and Kentucky Derby.
  • Arts and Letters won the 1969 Blue Grass Stakes and finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before finally breaking through in the Belmont Stakes. He would also go on to have a truly dominant three-year-old campaign littered with wins in the Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Met Mile, Travers and Jim Dandy.
  • Forward Pass was the 1968 Blue Grass Stakes, Florida Derby, American Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion. He finished second in the Belmont Stakes, losing to Stage Door Johnny, a horse that skipped the first two legs of the Triple Crown and was specifically bred to conquer longer races.
  • Lucky Debonair was the 1965 winner of the Blue Grass Stakes and then took the long route to score in the Kentucky Derby after winning the Santa Anita Derby on the other side of the country first.
  • Northern Dancer is the most successful, Canadian-born horse ever and won the 1964 Blue Grass Stakes along with the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He also won the 1964 Queen’s Plate.
  • Chateaugay won the 1959 Blue Grass Stakes and the Jerome Handicap prior to winning the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. He also finished second in the Preakness Stakes, barely missing out on a Triple Crown.
  • Sherluck won the 1961 rendition and would compete in the Kentucky Derby but fall to fifth in a race won by Carry Back, who picked up the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Sherluck roared in the Belmont Stakes, upsetting a Triple Crown bid by Carry Back in a major upset where he was 65/1.
  • Tommy Lee secured a 1949 Blue Grass Stakes win and would advance to the Kentucky Derby where he beat out 5/2 favorite First Landing. He missed the remainder of the Triple Crown.
  • Round Table is a notable winner from the 1957 renewal, who ran third in the Kentucky Derby behind Iron Liege and Gallant Man. He ran an absurd number of races that year, going 15-1-3 in 22 starts.
  • Coaltown won the 1948 Blue Grass Stakes and ran second behind Citation in the Kentucky Derby.
  • Faultless proved true to his namesake, winning the 1947 Blue Grass Stakes and the Derby Trial Stakes. He would finish third in the Kentucky Derby behind Jet Pilot and Phalanx. Determined in the Preakness Stakes, Faultless picked up the win, but then fell fifth in the Belmont. He would also win the Withers Stakes in 1947.
  • Shut Out won the 1942 Blue Grass Stakes along with the 1942 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. He finished fifth in between at the Preakness Stakes.
  • Bimelech won the 1940 Blue Grass Stakes to remain undefeated heading in to the Kentucky Derby, where he came second despite being listed as an overwhelming favorite. He would recover going on to win the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

 

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