Kentucky Derby Trail: Blue Grass Stakes

The 2021 Bluegrass Stakes will be Race 11 on April 3rd at Keeneland. Post time is set for 5:35 PM CT. This Grade II Race is one and 1/8 miles and has a purse of $800,000. The race is for three-years old horses and will give us another look at some 2021 Kentucky Derby contenders. There are nine horses in the field this year. Last year’s winner was Art Collector. Let’s take a look at the rankings for everyone in this year’s field.

Essential Quality is going to be the favorite here. 3/5 Morning line and he could be the Kentucky Derby favorite as of now. He won the Southwest Stakes easily to improve to an undefeated 5-0 in his last, despite sloppy conditions. He’s the one everyone will be gunning for here.

Highly Motivated is my second choice. He’s the only other horse with 100+ speed figures in both of his last two races. He finished 3rd in his last in the Gotham Stakes and won the Nyquist Stakes two starts back.

After those two, it gets pretty muddy as to who’s next best. Untreated ran great in his last breaking his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs and running a 102 speed figure. He’s got a shot, but hasn’t faced near this competition and only has two career races.

Rombauer won the El Camino in his last, but got crushed two starts back in the Breeders Cup Juvenile by Essential Quality and finished 5th. He hasn’t raced a ton on dirt (his last win was on All-Weather), so he could be one to leave off your ticket.

Keepmeinmind finished 3rd in that Breeders Cup Juvenile ahead of Rombauer and continued on to win the Jockey Club Stakes in his last. He shook of the rust in the Rebel Stakes in his last. He never really fired in that one, but it was his first race in a few months. I would keep him in mind for exotics.

Leblon is at 50-1 morning line, but I think he’s better than that. He’s increased his speed figure in each of his races in his career and his last two were in the 90s. He got stuck behind some horses in his last, but never quit down the stretch and passed some horses to finish fourth. I think he could keep running late and get up for 3rd or 4th even if other horses quit if Essential Quality runs away.

Hush of a Storm and Hidden Stash are also horses capable of hitting the board. Hush of a Storm has increased each of his last two and took a nice jump in his last. He’s had three straight wins, but all over the All-Weather Track. If he adjusts well to the dirt he could hit the board. Hidden Stash may also be overlooked. He’ll be closing hard down the stretch, hopefully he won’t get boxed in at the 1 post.

Sittin On Go is one I have to leave off my ticket. He’s looked really bad lately, he hasn’t finished above 6th in any of his last four races, albeit against good competition in all of them.

Below we take a look at each horse’s last three speed figures.

I’ve run the Blue Grass Stakes 1,000 times in simulations. Below are the results of those races.

Quick Wrap Up and Betting Strategies

Most Likely to Win: 4 Essential Quality

My Bet: 4 to Win, 4-3 Exacta, 4-3-2/6/7-2/6/7

Superfecta:  4-3-2/6/7-2/6/7

There’s no question Essential Quality is the horse to beat here. There’s a lot of horses who could hit the board so that might be where value can be found. I’d pay attention to horses not getting as much action that may deserve some. I’m excited to see Essential Quality run again and also to see which one of these longer shots runs a really good race.

Essential Quality wins the Southwest Stakes in his last

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