Blue Grass Stakes 2023 Field, Odds and Picks for Saturday 4/8/23

Kentucky Derby prep races at Keeneland on April 8, 2023 / Blue Grass Stakes
Kentucky Derby prep races at Keeneland on April 8, 2023 / Blue Grass Stakes / Garry Jones / Associated Press

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues with the biggest point races of the Championship Series. Saturday's big opening weekend at Keeneland includes the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes -- a major prep race to kick off the big stakes at the Keeneland Spring Meet ahead of the Run for the Roses.

The Grade 1 race awards the top 5 finishers Kentucky Derby points (100-40-30-20-10). At the completion of all the Kentucky Derby points races, the top 20 points leaders on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard earn a spot at the starting gate for the May 6 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

The winner of the 1 1/8 mile Blue Grass Stakes will earn enough points to qualify for the 1 1/4 mile Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 6. The runner-up will likely be in the Kentucky Derby as well, if not already qualified.

Winning Kentucky Derby Prep Race Picks

Kentucky Derby prep winning picks in February and March on multiple races, including:
Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs (Litigate: 3/1)
- Withers Stakes at Aqueduct (Hit Show: 7/5)
Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita (Newgate: 6/5)
Holy Bull at Gulfstream (Rocket Can: 5/2)
Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn (Reincarnate, 3rd at 5/1)
Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream (Forte: 3/2)
- Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds (Kingsbarns: 9/2, Disarm: 8/1, 1st & 2nd)
Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park (Two Phil's: 3/1)
UAE Derby at Meydan in Dubai (Derma Sotogake: 10/1)
- Florida Derby at Gulfstream (Forte: 2/5)

FanDuel Racing has you covered for the biggest racing days and events. Saturday's $1 million Blue Grass Stakes is Race 9 at 5:15 p.m. ET on April 8 and headlines a big day of racing that includes five total graded stakes races.

The Blue Grass Stakes will be televised on NBC as part of NBC Sports’ “Road to the Kentucky Derby” coverage and will also be shown on FanDuel TV.

Blue Grass Field and Odds

1. Tapit Trice (5/2)

Jockey: Luis Saez - Trainer: Todd Pletcher

2. Clear the Air (30/1)

Jockey: Ricardo Santana, Jr. - Trainer: W. Walden

3. Verifying (3/1)

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione - Trainer: Todd Pletcher

4. Classic Car Wash (12/1)

Jockey: Javier Castellano - Trainer: Mark Casse

5. Hayes Strike (15/1)

Jockey: James Graham - Trainer: Kenny McPeek

6. Scoobie Quando (15/1)

Jockey: Luan Machado - Trainer: Ben Colebrook

7. Sun Thunder (10/1)

Jockey: Florent Geroax - Trainer: Kenny McPeek

8. Blazing Sevens (6/1)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr. - Trainer: Chad Brown

9. Major Blue (30/1)

Jockey: D. Cabrera - Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

10. Raise Cain (9/2)

Jockey: Joel Rosario - Trainer: Ben Colebrook

11. Mendelssohns March (20/1)

Jockey: Brian Hernandez, Jr. - Trainer: Kenny McPeek

Blue Grass Picks

Tapit Trice was a $1.3 million purchase as a yearling back in 2021. He enters with three straight wins including his stakes debut last time out in the 1 1/16 mile Tampa Bay Derby where he was the heavy 1/2 favorite and rallied from off the pace to win by 2 lengths over Classic Car Wash. Tapit Trice is a son of Tapit with tantalizing talent. Trainer Todd Pletcher has three wins in the Blue Grass and jockey Luis Saez has won the race twice with a great chance for another.

Verifying is a son of Triple Crown winner Justify, and he'll need at least a top-3 finish to earn enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. He's capable, but we're not sure he'll get it with this added distance. He had a troubled trip in his 4th-place finish as the favorite in the 1 1/16 mile Rebel Stakes, and couldn't find enough running room until mid-stretch. His 96-speed figure (ESF) was below his previous race of 102.

Trainer Kenny McPeek has three horses running in Hayes Strike, Sun Thunder and Mendelssohns March on the far outside. Sun Thunder is a son of super sire Into Mischief and finished 2nd with a career-best 94 ESF in the 1 1/8 mile Risen Star Stakes and 5th last time out in the 1 3/16 mile Louisiana Derby. Risen Star winner Angel of Empire came back to win the Arkansas Derby last weekend, and Sun Thunder made a big rally from the back in that race to get the lead before losing it late. Sun Thunder needs a faster pace and we're not sure he'll get it, but he's a capable colt who needs a top-3 or maybe 4th-place finish to earn enough points to make the Kentucky Derby field.

Hayes Strike returned to winning form last month in a minor stakes at Laurel Park. He finished in the money in a pair of Derby preps last fall and has been training over the Keeneland track for more than a month. He hasn't faced top competition like some of his opponents in the Blue Grass but could make a surprising move as a closer if the pace is faster than expected.

Raise Cain has 54 points on the Derby Trail, which is enough to make it to Churchill Downs. He won the Gotham Stakes at 23/1 odds last month with a 91 ESF. More improvement is needed to win the Blue Grass, however.

Pick: Tapit Trice and Sun Thunder

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Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.