A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Swiss Skydiver takes on the boys in field of 13 in Saturday’s $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes


Peter Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver will try to put herself on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail Saturday when she takes on males in a field of 13 horses entered for the 96th running of the $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on Keeneland’s main track.

A major steppingstone for the $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve to be run Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs, the Toyota Blue Grass offers 170 points toward qualification to this year’s Derby with 100 points going to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third place and 10 points to fourth. The Derby is limited to the top 20 point earners that pass the entry box.

This year’s Toyota Blue Grass, which marks the 25th year the race has been sponsored by Toyota, will go as the ninth race on Saturday’s 10-race program with a 5:30 p.m. ET post time. First post for the card that features six graded stakes is 1:05 p.m.

Swiss Skydiver will try to put herself on the Kentucky Derby trail Saturday when she takes on males in a field of 13 horses entered for the 96th running of the $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass. (Coady Photography)

Trained by two-time Toyota Blue Grass winner Kenny McPeek, Swiss Skydiver will be seeking her initial Kentucky Derby points in her first test against males. She has won three graded stakes this year and compiled 310 points toward the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run Sept. 4.

Winner of the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), Fantasy (G3) and Santa Anita Oaks (G2) in her past three starts, Swiss Skydiver will get a 5-pound weight allowance Saturday and carry 118 pounds in the Toyota Blue Grass. Mike Smith has the mount and will break from post position seven.

Smith is a two-time Toyota Blue Grass winner, having scored in 1993 with Prairie Bayou and 1994 with Holy Bull.

No filly has won the Toyota Blue Grass and only one filly has run in the race since it debuted at Keeneland during the track’s inaugural Spring Meet in April 1937. She is Hyman Friedberg’s homebred Harriet Sue, who in 1944 won the Ashland and next was fifth to Skytracer in the Blue Grass. That year, Keeneland’s Spring Meet was held at Churchill Downs.

In 1948, future Hall of Famer Bewitch was scratched from the Blue Grass.

Another accomplished runner in the field is Jackpot Farm’s Basin. Winner of the Runhappy Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga and most recently second in a division of the Arkansas Derby (G1), Basin ranks ninth on the Derby leaderboard with 50 points.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Basin will be ridden Saturday by Ricardo Santana Jr. and break from post position eight.

Invading from California is Jim and Donna Daniell’s Rushie. Trained by Michael McCarthy, Rushie finished third in last month’s Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his stakes debut to gain 20 Derby points. Javier Castellano, who won last year’s running on Vekoma, has the mount and will break from post position 10.

Also looking to add to his Derby points total is John Oxley’s Enforceable. Winner of the Lecomte (G3) and runner-up in the Risen Star (G2), Enforceable is trained by Mark Casse and will be ridden by Joel Rosario. Enforceable is 14th on the Derby leaderboard with 33 points.

Rosario is seeking his second Toyota Blue Grass victory to go with the triumph in 2011 on Brilliant Speed. Enforceable, third in last fall’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1), will break from post 12.

Want more great content like this?

Become a sustaining member of KyForward with a tax-deductible donation today and help us continue to provide accurate, up-to-date local news and information you can depend on.

Click here to donate now!

Seeking his initial Derby points is Bruce Lunsford’s Art Collector. Trained by Tom Drury, Art Collector enters Saturday’s race off two allowance victories at Churchill Downs this year by a combined 9 ¾ lengths. Brian Hernandez Jr. has the mount and will break from post position three.

In addition to McPeek, who won the Toyota Blue Grass with Harlan’s Holiday in 2002 and Java’s War in 2013, three other trainers will try to add to their win totals in the race.

Nick Zito, whose Blue Grass victories came with Strike the Gold (1991), Halory Hunter (1998) and The Cliff’s Edge (2004), will saddle Dream Walkin Farms’ Hunt the Front. A maiden winner at Oaklawn, Hunt the Front will be ridden by Corey Lanerie and break from post 11.

Dale Romans, a two-time Blue Grass winner with Dullahan (2012) and Brody’s Cause (2016), will send out graded stakes-placedAttachment Rate. Owned by Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister, Attachment Rate will be ridden by Luis Saez and break from post nine. Saez won the 2016 Blue Grass for Romans on Brody’s Cause.

Bill Mott, who won the Toyota Blue Grass in 1984 with Taylor’s Special, will send out LNJ Foxwoods and NK Racing’s maiden winner Tiesto. Flavien Prat has the mount and will break from post 13.

Three other riders with previous wins – John Velazquez, Rafael Bejarano and Jose Ortiz – will be seeking additional Toyota Blue Grass victories.

Velazquez, who rode Bandini in 2005 and Carpe Diem in 2015 to victory for Todd Pletcher, has the call on Jacks or Better Farm’s Shivaree, who will break from the rail.

Bejarano, who won the Toyota Blue Grass in 2007 aboard Dominican, has the call on Partner Stable’s Hard Lighting who will break from post six. Ortiz, who took the 2018 race on champion Good Magic, will be aboard Arnaldo Monge and trainer Rey Hernandez’s Finnick the Fierce and break from post two.

The field for the Toyota Blue Grass, with riders and weights from the rail out, is: Shivaree (Velazquez, 123 pounds), Finnick the Fierce (Ortiz, 123), Art Collector (Hernandez Jr., 123), Mr. Big News (Mitchell Murrill, 123), Man in the Can (Tyler Gaffalione, 123), Hard Lighting (Bejarano, 123), Swiss Skydiver (Smith, 118), Basin (Santana Jr., 123), Attachment Rate (Saez, 123), Rushie (Castellano, 123), Hunt the Front (Lanerie, 123), Enforceable (Rosario, 123), Tiesto (Prat, 123).

From Keeneland


Related Posts

Leave a Comment