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Homeracing

Tipsheet: 2022 Blue Grass Stakes

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

April 7th, 2022

A fantastic field of 12 three-year-olds will run 1 1/8 miles on the dirt at Keeneland in Saturday’s $1 million Blue Grass S. (G1). The 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby challenge series event will reward the top four finishers with qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 structure towards the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 7.

Blue Grass Stakes Picks

  • #6 Emmanuel
  • #4 Zandon
  • #10 Smile Happy
  • #8 Ethereal Road
  • #5 Volcanic

Blue Grass Stakes Wagers

  • $30 win #6 Emmanuel
  • 50-cent trifecta key 6 with 4, 5, 8, 10 with all
  • 10-cent superfecta 6 with 4, 5, 8, 10 with 4, 5, 8, 10 with all

Blue Grass Stakes Contenders

#1 COMMANDPERFORMANCE flashed considerable potential as a juvenile but failed when a distant second in a Tampa Bay maiden contest to commence 2022. The Union Rags colt will improve on Saturday and benefit from the inside post, but I can only endorse his inclusion in the lower rungs of the exotics on this occasion. Irad Ortiz will pilot the Todd Pletcher pupil.

#2 FENWICK showed marked improvement with the addition of blinkers last time out when leading at every call in a maiden tally for trainer Kevin McKathan. The son of Curlin takes a massive class hike against a strong cast on Saturday, and he would be a major surprise while making his stakes debut.

#3 TRADEMARK comes off an even fifth-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) for Vickie Oliver. The capable colt has never run fast enough to challenge the top players in this spot, and the Upstart gelding might be in too deep in his second Keeneland appearance.

#4 ZANDON is lightly raced with considerable room for improvement in his fourth lifetime effort for Chad Brown. The Remsen S. (G2) runner-up was a solid third in his seasonal debut in the Risen Star S. (G2), and he will be a major player on Saturday with an expected move forward second time off the shelf. Flavien Prat comes in to guide the dark bay.

#5 VOLCANIC has moved up since adding blinkers two back and finished a sneaky good third in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) in his latest endeavor. The Mark Casse trainee comes in fresh with solid drills in the interim, and I like him as a top-four player in the field at a big price. Adam Beschizza inherits the mount.

#6 EMMANUEL was wide throughout when fourth in the Fountain of Youth S. (G2) most recently for Pletcher, and I am expecting a huge move in the right direction in his Grade 1 bow. The More Than Ready colt has posted a pair of five-furlong drills in advance of this test, and he could sit a dream trip while tracking the pace from the second flight early on. Luis Saez will be on board.

#7 GOLDEN GLIDER showed late interest in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) for Casse, but the talented colt has yet to show that he will be up to the task against a field of this nature. The Ghostzapper colt will be rallying from well back early on beneath Ricardo Santana.

#8 ETHEREAL ROAD is rapidly improving and will be a major threat in the stretch with continued ascension for D. Wayne Lukas. The Quality Road colt, who was a sharp runner-up in the Rebel S. (G2) last time out, has posted Brisnet Late Pace figures of 105 and 107 in his last pair, and the added ground of this contest will surely aid the Kentucky-bred. Luis Contreras retains the ride.

#9 RATTLE N ROLL romped in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) on the course in the fall, but the Ken McPeek pupil has yet to show that same turn of foot at three at this stage of his development. The Connect chestnut will add blinkers coming off of a fourth-place run in the Louisiana Derby (G2), and he should be as fit as any runner in the group, as well. Brian Hernandez will pilot the late runner.

#10 SMILE HAPPY ran his race when second-best in the Risen Star S. (G2) off the layoff and rates an obvious chance second time back for McPeek. The Grade 2-winning son of Runhappy comes in fresh following a nice string of morning moves, and his best race could make him the one to beat despite drawing a bit wide. Regular pilot Corey Lanerie will be in the stirrups.

#11 BLACKADDER bypassed a more logical spot last weekend to land in this field, and while I admire the ambitious move, I still can’t endorse the El Camino Real Derby winner on the surface switch.

#12 GRANTHAM received a fine trip from the rail when second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) most recently and will now look to overcome the outside draw on Saturday. The Michael Maker-trained son of Declaration of War has obvious talent, but he will need to take a huge step forward in order to make the frame in this superb field.

Meet the Contenders for the 2022 Blue Grass Stakes

Download the full betting guide for a 5-star rating of each horse's winning potential.

  • COMMANDPERFORMANCE
    • Pro: Grade 1-placed at two and connections still high on him despite maiden status.
    • Con: Loss at odds of 1-20 in season debut doesn’t inspire confidence.
  • FENWICK
    • Pro: Pulled off shocker against Commandperformance after three poor efforts.
    • Con: Thrown in deep here in first try against winners.
  • TRADEMARK
    • Pro: Hung on much better in Tampa Bay Derby (G2) than he had in Sam F. Davis (G3).
    • Con: Still doesn’t look up to this level and probably needs softer.
  • ZANDON
    • Pro: Rallied well in Risen Star (G2) behind sharper rival; fits well at the distance.
    • Con: Significant time between starts might blunt effectiveness.
  • VOLCANIC
    • Pro: Improvement noted since the addition of blinkers.
    • Con: Tampa preps look less appealing after Classic Causeway’s recent loss.
  • EMMANUEL
    • Pro: Endured awful trip in Fountain of Youth (G2); capable of better.
    • Con: Led throughout in first two wins; versatile enough to win another way?
  • GOLDEN GLIDER
    • Pro: Barn has had success getting capable three-year-olds prepped for the classics.
    • Con: Unplaced in both Tampa preps, neither of which were especially deep.
  • ETHEREAL ROAD
    • Pro: Recent Brisnet Late Pace figures impressive for rapidly improving colt.
    • Con: Rebel (G2) came up soft this year and must progress more.
  • RATTLE N ROLL
    • Pro: Sparkled over this track last fall and might perk up on return to it.
    • Con: Underachieved in two earlier starts this year and has seemingly not trained on.
  • SMILE HAPPY
    • Pro: Top prospect all winter should improve off second in Risen Star to tough rival.
    • Con: Needs a bit of luck to escape if caught in traffic and/or too far behind.
  • BLACKADDER
    • Pro: Rallied to win El Camino Real Derby over same distance; improving sort.
    • Con: Faces higher quality of competition in debut for new barn.
  • GRANTHAM
    • Pro: Good try behind lone speed in Tampa Bay Derby, flattering Withers (G3) form.
    • Con: Drew tough post and recent preps haven’t been the strongest.

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