Kentucky Derby Prep Races: Blue Grass Stakes Odds, Race Preview

Written By Dave Bontempo on April 8, 2022
Blue Grass Stakes odds Keeneland

Whether one calls it “win and you’re in,” “the last chance dance” for the Kentucky Derby, or simply an excellent $1 million horse race, the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday has a compelling storyline. Below we will look at Blue Grass Stakes odds and more.

Nationwide bettors can view this 1 1–8-mile showcase at 5:10 p.m. ET and access wagering via TVG. The Blue Grass is part of a terrific Road to the Kentucky Derby points-qualifying Saturday showcase that includes the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in New York and the Santa Anita Derby in Arcadia, California.

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Blue Grass Stakes odds

Check out Blue Grass Stakes odds below and click to bet now at TVG.

1. Command PerformanceTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz12-1
2. FenwickKevin McKathanPaco Lopez20-1
3. TrademarkVictoria OliverRafael Bejarano30-1
4. ZandonChad BrownFlavien Prat5-2
5. VolcanicMark CasseAdam Beschizza20-1
6. EmmanuelTodd PletcherLuis Saez9-2
7. Golden GliderMark CasseRicardo Santana Jr.20-1
8. Ethereal RoadD. Wayne LukasLuis Contreras20-1
9. Rattle N RollKenneth McPeekBrian Hernandez8-1
10. Smile HappyKenneth McPeekCorey Lanerie9-5
11. BlackadderRodolphe BrissetFlorent Geroux20-1
12. GranthamMichael MakerTyler Gaffalione20-1

The field

This one features the biggest field of horsemen trying to annex berths for the May 7 Kentucky Derby, and we will soon have a pretty good feel of what odds to win the Kentucky Derby will look like. Horses with the top 20-point totals earn a Run for the Roses slot for their connections. The Blue Grass awards 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers.

Unlike other prep races, even fourth could be significant here.

Two entries in this field – Smile Happy and Grantham – would barely be in the Derby if it started today. Several others are on the cusp, and one of them – Rattle N Roll – is just one point away from the cutoff. That’s why this is the biggest field of the weekend, besides the purse. The bottom of the superfecta may even propel a horse to Louisville.

Here’s a look at the post positions from the draw and Blue Grass Stakes odds.

1. Command Performance (12-1): Ran fourth in the Breeders Cup Juvenile behind Corniche in November, laid off until March and then came back to maiden special weights at Tampa. But he flopped at 1-9. Pulling alongside 21-1 shot Fenwick, had the entire stretch to go by but instead backed up. Should improve second time back, but still a maiden put into a $1 million race.

2. Fenwick (20-1): Nice victory at Tampa Bay as a 21-1 frontrunner able to hold off 1-9 Command Performance. Probably will try to seek the front again and hope he’s good enough for this field. Tampa graduates have a hard time when they step into the bigger mix.

3. Trademark (30-1): Two factors not in his favor. He was 72-1 at the Tampa Bay Derby and finished a game fifth in a race won by Classic Causeway, who then flopped in the Florida Derby. This is a similar type of move. Will run hard, but just not good enough.

4. Zandon (5-2): Certainly fits. Finished a closing third to possible Kentucky Derby favorite Epicenter in the Risen Star Stakes. Passed most of the field and finished just behind Smile Happy. Will run late, but will be better served to start earlier. Previously lost to Mo Donegal in a thrilling photo at the Remsen. Has been the distance twice, an advantage. Live, in all tickets.

5. Volcanic (20-1): Which indicator do you favor? Third in Sam Davis to Classic Causeway, who ran off the board in the Florida Derby? Or an exhilarating stretch duel victory over Charge It, who went on to capture second in the Florida Derby and qualifies for Churchill? The deciding factor could be the distance. He faded just before the finish line at 1 1-6 miles and now must go 1 1-8. But he will put in a late run.

6. Emmanuel (9-2): Went off co-favored with Simplification at 5-2 in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. Was pocketed at the break and never could fit into his comfort zone. He raced five wide, briefly took the lead and then was impacted by the crazy collision that changed the course of the race. Nightmare trip. Should improve. A more alert break, coupled with back class, would put him right there.

7. Golden Glider (20-1): Another graduate from the Tampa Bay Derby. Came on late and took fourth place away from Trademark. But that’s fourth place at Tampa, moving up here.

8. Ethereal Road (20-1): My favorite live longshot. I touted him before the Rebel Stakes because he’d rallied from dead last to romp at 19-1 in a previous race. He ran strongly in the Rebel and finished second. The winner, Un Ojo, did not do well in his follow-up race. That could be a class indicator. But this is a lightly-raced horse in a field of competitors who haven’t gotten it done and I’m plunking a couple dollars on him for principal.

9. Rattle N Roll (8-1): Returns to the site of his Breeders Cup Futurity triumph last fall. Has flattened out since then. Was in good position along the rail in the Fountain of Youth deep into the backstretch and inexplicably backed up. Fourth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby came from an after-the-fact rally, well behind Epicenter. On his best in this field, he could be in the middle of it.

10. Smile Happy (9-5): Three excellent races to start his career. They include a maiden-special weights victory, a win in the Kentucky Jockey Gold Club and second to Epicenter in the Risen Star. Was a deep closer in the Risen Star, just like Zandon. Would be well-served to be a couple of lengths closer in the backstretch, keeping better contact with the pack. Makes sense.

11. Blackadder (20-1): Comes off a nice victory at this distance in the cheaper El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate. Steadily moved from the back of pack, caught some racing luck when a hole opened up and he squeezed through to ignite a finishing push. That race may not be on the radar of too many handicappers, but this was a patient, mature ride. Can’t leave as much to fate as last time, when he was nearly shut off. But is better than his odds suggest. Winning time is about one second slower than these and he must ship, but it’s worth a shot putting him underneath in one ticket.

12. Grantham (20-1): His connections love long odds. Grantham was a gritty second at 37-1 to Classic Causeway in the Tampa Bay Derby. He had previously been fourth in the Withers. On his best, he might fight and corral an underneath spot, but would need some others to disappoint.

Betting considerations

Feels like a race in which both Smile Happy and Zandon reach the top three. They both have raced this distance and will finish strong. Although that’s a logical exacta box, it feels like they can be split by one of the longer shots. That could be Ethereal Road, Blackadder, Emmanuel, Rattle N Roll, maybe even Grantham and Volcanic. Can’t play them all. Any one of these could split Smile Happy and Zandon and perhaps win. I’ll take the small exacta box, mix in the triple box from among these and put a stab win bet on Ethereal Road. In a field this big in which the favorites haven’t closed the deal in big races, longshots may figure more than usual.

  • Much of the field likes to close. Fenwick, Ethereal Road, Emmanuel, Grantham and Command Performance have been near the front in recent races. They would be likely to try again.
  • Some inexpensive and effective stabs: Take your favorite over four horses in a $1 trifecta key for 12. It will pay well if a couple of medium to long shots come in underneath.
  • The $4 superfecta special. This works nicely if the favorites finish in the top four, but not the top two. A $1 superfecta 10-8 with 10-8 with 4-6 with 4-6 for example means that you’ve taken Smile Happy and Ethereal Road in the first two spots with Zandon and Emmanuel in the third and fourth positions. If it finishes that way, it will pay. Extend this formula on any combo you like. There are a lot of opportunities here in this big field.

Good luck.

Kentucky Derby Leaderboard

The top-20 healthy horses in the standings after all Kentucky Derby prep races have completed will be eligible to enter the Run for the Roses on the first Saturday in May.

164Steven M. Asmussen
2Zandon114Chad Brown
3White Abarrio
112Saffie Joseph, Jr.
4Mo Donegal112Todd Pletcher
5Tiz the Bomb110Kenny McPeek
6Cyberknife100Brad Cox
7Crown Pride (JPN)100Koichi Shintani
8Taiba100Tim Yakteen
74Antonio Sano
10Smile Happy
70Kenny McPeek
11Classic Causway66Brian Lynch
12Tawny Port60Brad Cox
13Barber Road
58John Ortiz
14Un Ojo
54Anthony W. Dutrow
15Messier40Tim Yakteen
16Zozos40Brad Cox
17Summer Is Tomorrow40Bhupat Seemar
18Charge It40Todd Pletcher
19Happy Jack30Doug O'Neill
20Pioneer of Medina25Todd Pletcher
21In Due Time24Kelly Breen
22Ethereal Road22D. Wayne Lukas
23Rich Strike21Eric Reed
24Rattle N Roll20Kenny McPeek

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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

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