Blue Grass Stakes 2021 Entries: Essential Quality leads nine-horse field

The Road to the Kentucky Derby rolls through Keeneland on Saturday afternoon with the Blue Grass
The Road to the Kentucky Derby rolls through Keeneland on Saturday afternoon with the Blue Grass

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A year ago the Blue Grass got moved to July due to the pandemic and Kenny McPeek sent out superstar filly Swiss Skydiver to go and take on the boys. She fell short after a great duel with Art Collector but she went on to take the Preakness. This year the race sits in a more traditional slot towards the start of the Keeneland Spring Meet and the star attraction is the new favorite for the Kentucky Derby in Essential Quality.

Nine horses have been entered and after the Post Position draw this Tuesday, the field has been set. Post Positions and Entries are listed below along with an overview from our editor...

Blue Grass Stakes 2021 Entries & Post Positions
  • Post Position
  • Horse

Post Position

  • 1.
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5.
  • 6.
  • 7.
  • 8.
  • 9

Horse

  • Hidden Stash
  • Untreated
  • Highly Motivated
  • Essential Quality
  • Rombauer
  • Leblon
  • Hush of a Storm
  • Sittin On Go
  • Keepmeinmind

For the past few months horse bettors have split into two camps - they were either very much aboard Essential Quality or they thought Life is Good was the horse to beat at Churchill Downs. Sadly we won’t see them face-off in the Run for the Roses due to the injury the latter suffered but that does leave the former as the overwhelming pick for many at this juncture.

Brad Cox’s Tapit colt saw his three-year-old campaign delayed due to the inclement weather that forced Oaklawn to shut down for a fortnight but he did win the rescheduled Southwest in the slop to cement his place in the upper echelons of Derby contenders. That victory came off the back of two Grade I wins as a two-year-old at the Breeders’ Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He’s sent out for one final race before the big one and will surely go off as a massive favorite - potentially even odds on. He’ll break from Gate 4.

Keepmeinmind is one that could challenge come Saturday afternoon. A very lackluster three-year-old debut in the Grade II Rebel has seen plenty move him down - or even off - Kentucky Derby Contender leader-boards. Trainer Robert Diodoro though had a feeling the Laoban colt would struggle though due to the speed of the Oaklawn Park track that day. He thinks he has more to offer and having taken out the Kentucky Jockey Club and hit the board at the Breeders’ Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile - that would add up.

Chad Brown sends out Highly Motivated for one final swing at impressing on the Derby trail. A speed record here at Keeneland over six-and-a-half furlongs in the Nyquist Stakes on Breeders’ Cup Juvenile day showed everyone that this Into Mischief colt has speed to burn. A third place up at Aqueduct for the Grade III Gotham though was more than a bit disappointing. Still has enough potential for a late breakthrough however.

Essential Quality isn’t the only entry that has already tasted victory on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Rombauer won the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate and he’s been shipped back to Kentucky to take on this race. Not sure he’s a top quality contender but it is tough to just ignore him. He is joined as a previous Road to the Derby winner in the starting gate by a late addition after John Battaglia Memorial winner Hush of a Storm was pointed towards the Blue Grass.

Last weekend Hush of a Storm was set to race in the Jeff Ruby but things didn't work out as planned. The former didn't race and after that scratch - his trainer quickly anticipated a switch to Keeneland and he was shipped to Kentucky. He worked five furlongs early in the week and looks to continue his winning ways having won his past three starts. The Bill Murray trained horse would have been the second-choice on the Morning Line at the Jeff Ruby.

Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Hidden Stash will break from the inside post with the Todd Pletcher trained Untreated outside of him. Sittin On Go and Leblon round out the nine horse field after Tarantino was surprisingly not entered having been expected to do so following a poor run at the Jeff Ruby.

The Morning Line odds will be available later on Tuesday.

Our turf-man will be here with his in-depth horse-by-horse analysis of the race by Tuesday night and on Friday - both our in-house handicapper and turf-man will handicap the Blue Grass and provide their all important picks...

Blue Grass Stakes Horse-by-Horse Analysis
Kentucky Derby Odds
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