| Wed 05/04/2017 - 21:24 EDT

Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Picks

Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Picks

Bluegrass Stakes Preview

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The Bluegrass Stakes last produced a Kentucky Derby winner ten years ago in Street Sense who actually failed to win the race, finishing second behind surprise winner Dominican. For our money, the 93rd running of the Bluegrass could go down the same way as the race is surprisingly lacking in pace. The top two betting choices, McCracken (7/5) and Tapwrit (5/2) are both leading candidates to win the Kentucky Derby, but both employ and off-the-pace running style that may not bode well considering the projected shape of this race.

McCracken is largely considered the horse to beat in the Kentucky Derby at this point and leads most future pools at major racebooks like Sports Interaction. The undefeated Ian Wilkes trainee makes his much-anticipated return following a minor ankle injury in late February. McCracken was last seen winning the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis in style over a rallying Tapwrit. The two will square off again following Tapwrit's impressive win in the Grade 2 Tampa Derby. Both colts set track records in their Tampa wins, but neither seems a lock in the Bluegrass despite bringing impressive credentials to the race. Between the two, Tapwrit appears to have slightly better tactical speed. It's also important to remember that McCracken could need this race after his inactivity. If either colt loses, but runs well, it wouldn't necessarily be an indictment of his Kentucky Derby chances. 

Among the other contenders, J Boys Echo stands out, but like the top two, possesses a late-running style. Trained by Dale Romans, this son of Mineshaft took a major step forward in his last start winning the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes and earning a field-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure. That number is considerably better than either McCracken's (95) or Tapwrit's (96) career best. J Boys Echo has also run well over the Keeneland surface, breaking his maiden in Lexington last fall by 5 1/2 lengths. Practical Joke (7/2) will probably be closer to 5/1 or 6/1 at post time and could be sent from the opening bell by jockey Joel Rosario after tranining well in Florida. 

Looking at this race from a pure wagering perspective, there's not going to be much value on betting the best horses. McCracken will likely be sent to post at very unappealing odds - possibly as low as 4/5 - and Tapwrit will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 8/5, but we could see those scenarios reversed depending on how the Keeneland sharpies see this race. Depsite their running styles, these two colts are the most likely winners, so it really just depends on which one is ready to step forward. As previously noted, Tapwrit appears to have a bit more tactical speed than McCracken. It's also not hard to envision a scenario where Tapwrit and McCracken hook up too early in the stretch, setting the table for J Boys Echo. This race would have been and ideal spot for a speedster like Battalion Runner, but none of these horses appear particularly capable of capitalizing on the slow early pace. 

Bluegrass Stakes Picks 2017

  • 1st: Tapwrit
  • 2nd: McCracken
  • 3rd: J Boys Echo

At the end of the day, speed may not be Tapwrit's game, but he's quick enough to get the jump on this field or at least position himself at the head of affairs. This will be Tapwrit's third race of 2017 and he should be firing on all cylinders while McCracken may need a comback effort to get fully cranked. The 1 1/8-mile distance will be an unknown for every horse in this field, but Tapwrit, McCracken and J Boys Echo are all well bred for the trip. In multirace exotics we recommend covering the numbers of all three horses and rooting for J Boy to pull the mild upset and create a larger payout. Whatever the result, the 2017 Bluegrass is one to watch closely for all those following the Kentucky Derby trail.

Category : MLB News

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