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The $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland Race Course is one of the final major preps for the Kentucky Derby, and historically has been the race that yields the most Derby winners. A field of 13 three-year-olds contested this 1 1/8 mile trip over the Polytrack at the Lexington oval, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70's, before a record crowd of 40,617. Juvenile champion Hansen was sent off as the 6-5 favorite, exiting his win in the Gotham Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct. In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Dullahan, second in the Palm Beach (G3) over the Gulfstream turf last out, and 9-1 third choice Howe Great, winner of four in a row including the Kitten's Joy and the Palm Beach both on turf at Gulfstream.
Dullahan catches Hansen in the stretch run of the Blue Grass with Gung Ho third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 6 Dullahan Desormeaux 8.40 3.60 3.00 4 Hansen Dominguez 3.00 2.60 2 Gung Ho Prado 9.20 Winning Time: 1:47.94 $2 Exacta 6-4 23.60 $2 Trifecta 6-4-2 329.00 $2 Superfecta 6-4-2-9 2,978.40
Left: Dullahan returns after the race. Winning jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "He switched leads, and he just exploded. As soon as he straightened (turning for home), there was a hole. He ran through that and then he said, 'Now what I do?' And I asked him to keep going. He was very strong all the way to the wire."
Right: Trainer Dale Romans watches Dullahan graze back at the barn afterwards.
Winning trainer Dale Romans on Blue Grass day at Keeneland. Romans said, "He did everything that a good horse has to do to win. When it's time to accelerate, Kent had enough horse to split through. He gets the job done. He's just a special horse. I was just worried about him getting boxed in. A horse with a turn of foot like he has can get himself out of trouble. He looked great to me. I don't think the (1 1/4 mile) distance (of the Kentucky Derby) will be a problem. The further the better."
The start of the 2012 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, with Hansen (grey horse) already taking the lead. His jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "He's a very fast horse, came away from there very sharp, but believe it or not, although he was running very fast fractions, too fast to go 1 1/8 miles, he wasn't rank. Today he came back to me to some extent, but that was about as slow as he was willing to go. I thought it was a very solid effort going the distance. He continued to keep a great pace and galloped out as he usually does."
Edgar Prado aboard third place finisher Gung Ho said, "He broke good and I got the rail to save a little ground. I was down there most of the way until the 3/8 pole. He really picked it up and I thought for a while he might get there. But he got a little even at the end. Nice horse, he tried hard."
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