The Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes is a must-see race Saturday at Keeneland and one runner stands out above the rest.
Essential Quality heads all other runners in online betting markets and he looks to have this field at his mercy. However, there is never a sure thing in racing, so it’s always wise to cover your bets.
We look at the best thoroughbreds back in the 2021 Blue Grass Stakes, which has major implications for the Kentucky Derby Odds later this season.
2021 Blue Grass Stakes Race Details
- Time: Saturday, April 4, 5:30 p.m.
- Track: Keeneland Race Course
- Surface: Dirt
- Distance: 1⅛ Miles
- Stake: $800,000
- Where to watch: NBCSN
2021 Blue Grass Stakes Field
A field of nine takes its place in the Blue Grass Stakes. Essential Quality is the odds-on favorite.
1. Hidden Stash
Trainer: Victoria Oliver
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Record: 2 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
3. Highly Motivated
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third
4. Essential Quality
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Luis Saez
Record: 4 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
Trainer: Michael McCarthy
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds
Trainer: Paulo Lobo
Jockey: Albin Jimenez
Record: 5 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 1 third
7. Hush of a Storm
Trainer: William Morey
Jockey: Santiago Gonzalez
Record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
8. Sittin On Go
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Corey Lanerie
Record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
Trainer: Robertino Diodoro
Jockey: David Cohen
Record: 5 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 1 third
Blue Grass Stakes Top Pick: Essential Quality
There is a reason why Essential Quality is the top pick in the online racebook. The Godolphin-owned colt by Tapit owns a perfect record and that could be extended.
He scored wins in the Breeders’ Futurity, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and his first 3-year-old result came in the Southwest Stakes when scoring by 4¼ lengths with ease.
The Kentucky Derby favorite is an awesome athlete and although he hasn’t been exposed to much yet, this could merely be the final preparation before his May 1 target.
“He’s a very good workhorse,” trainer Brad Cox told Paulick Report. “They worked five-eighths from the half-mile pole in, I think, a minute and two-fifths, (galloped) out in 1:14, well in hand. It was exactly what we wanted to see.”
We’re expecting Luis Saez to take Essential Quality to the front. Bettors see many favorites take bad luck out of the equation by pushing forward, and there isn’t much speed in this race.
Essential Quality runs at short odds, but he is well worth having on your ticket.
Blue Grass Stakes Best Value: Highly Motivated
The Chad Brown-trained runner will likely sit off the pace and try to finish over the top of them.
He owns two wins and two placings from four starts, so he has been right around the mark throughout his entire career, which includes some classy performances.
He won the Nyquist Stakes by 6½ lengths at Keeneland and that came in a track record time of 1:14.99. It shows he has the ability to run quick times when given the right run in transit.
Highly Motivated comes from a stable that won the 2018 Blue Grass Stakes with Good Magic, who subsequently placed in the Kentucky Derby. Brown knows how to train winners of this race and that bodes well.
Odds of 7-2 shouldn’t be overlooked on an each-way basis.
Blue Grass Stakes Upset Runner: Rombauer
Rombauer comes from California with a solid reputation and a last-start win in the El Camino Real Derby.
It wasn’t the hardest race to win, but it was a nice return to racing as a three-year-old and it bodes well for the Blue Grass Stakes.
1️⃣ Hidden Stash
3️⃣ Highly Motivated
4️⃣ Essential Quality
7️⃣ Hush of a Storm
8️⃣ Sit-in On Go
9️⃣ Keepmeinmind pic.twitter.com/hC85C61tbr
World Horse Racing (@WHR) March 30, 2021
He finished second in the American Pharoah Stakes last year before running fifth behind Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Can he turn the tables on the favorite? Probably not, but he could be a handy price to finish second or third.
2021 Blue Grass Stakes Trifecta Selections
We wouldn’t leave out either Essential Quality or Highly Motivated in Blue Grass Stakes trifecta selections.
Both runners should be tough to beat, but for added value, throw in Rombauer, Untreated, and Keepmeinmind.
All five runners should be right around the mark and given the size of the betting pools, bettors should get a handy return.
- Essential Quality
- Highly Motivated