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Vekoma punches KY Derby ticket with Blue Grass win, Somelikeithotbrown just short on points

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Never before had Keeneland seen such a large crowd on the opening Saturday of a meet.

Vekoma draws off from the field to an impressive 3 1/2 length win in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Saturday, stamping his ticket to the Kentucky Derby (photos by Mark Hansel).

The combination of perfect weather, spots in the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks up for grabs and the ageless charm of the storied race track, lured a crowd of 34,775 to Lexington for an 11-race card.

Keeneland did not disappoint, delivering exciting finishes, a $100+ winner in a Grade 1 stakes, and a $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) champion trained by one of the Commonwealth’s favorite sons.

Gatsas Stable and R.A. Hill Stable’s Vekoma was never really threatened as he cruised to a 3 1/2 length victory in the Toyota Blue Grass.

Vekoma stalked a lively pace just behind Somelikeithotbrown, winner of the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park, took command on the far turn and drew off.

Win Win Win finished strongly to nip Signalman at the wire for the place, while a game, but tiring, Somelikeithotbrown finished fourth.

The win was worth 100 Kentucky Derby points and added to the 10, he comes in with, assures Vekoma a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

Vekoma is trained by George Weaver, who grew up in Louisville and is excited to be heading to the Kentucky Derby with a horse that may be peaking at the right time.

“I’ve won a lot of big races, but this is probably the biggest,” Weaver said. “Keeneland and this race are special to me.”

Win Win Win also seems to be a safe bet for the Kentucky Derby field, bolstered by the 40 points earned in the runner up finish that boosts his total to 50.

Somelikeithotbrown followed up this win in the Jeff Ruby steaks with a solid fourth in the Toyota Blue grass stakes at Keeneland sturdy, but appears to be on the outside of the Kentucky Derby field, looking in.

Signalman with 38 points after his third-place finish sits right on the bubble at 18th, with points still to be claimed and the Derby field limited to 20 starters.

Despite following up a strong win in the Jeff Ruby Steaks with a solid effort in the Blue Grass, Somelikeithotbrown appears to be on the outside of the Derby field looking in, barring defections.

Trained by Mike Maker and with an ownership group that includes Union, KY’s David Koenig, Somelikeithotbrown earned 10 Kentucky Derby points to go with the 20 for his win in the Jeff Ruby Steaks.

Upsets in some of the other Kentucky Derby preps, and the announcement that Master Fencer will ship from Japan to race in the Kentucky Derby, has moved Somelikeithotbrown down the list.

Master Fencer, ranked fourth with 19 points in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, accepted the invitation to race at Churchill Downs after connections for the three horses ranked ahead of him declined.

The news is not all bad for the connections of Somelikeithotbrownown. As a New York-bred 3yo, he is eligible for the New York Stallion Stakes Series, which includes some lucrative turf races at Belmont Park and Saratoga and that may be Somelikeithotbrown’s preferred surface.

As a 2yo, he won a 1 1/8 mile state-bred turf race at Saratoga by 8 lengths and finished a solid third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs in November.

Bluegrass Day at Keeneland. Vekoma stamps ticket to the Kentucky Derby with win. Do you recognize any familiar faces?

Posted by Mark Hansel on Saturday, April 6, 2019

Bluegrass Day at Keeneland. Vekoma stamps his ticket to the Kentucky Derby with a win in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Do you recognize any familiar faces?

Out For A Spin shocks the field in the Ashland

Out for a spin, by far the longest shot in the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), ran by heavily-favored Jaywalk and held off second-choice Restless Rider to post a 52-1 upset and trigger a $106.20 mutuel.

The win gives Out for a Spin 100 Kentucky Oaks points and stamps the 3yo filly’s ticket to that race on the first Friday in May.

Restless Rider’s runner-up finish was worth 40 points, boosting her total to 62 and virtually ensuring her spot in the Oaks gate as well.

Jaywalk’s 20 points give her 55, which also puts her in pretty good shape to make it into the Oaks field, if the connections choose to run her.

Since her return to the races at three years old, Jaywalk does not appear to be the same horse.

After finishing second in her career debut last year, she reeled off four strait wins, culminated by a dominating performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in November.

This year, she ran a disappointing fourth in the Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park last month, followed by Saturday’s well-beaten third in the Ashland as the even-money favorite.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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