Uncaptured tops open-looking Blue Grass
Preview: USA, Saturday 10.40pm BST (live on ATR)
Keeneland: Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Grade 1) 1m1f, AW, 3yo
CANADIAN-based trainer Mark Casse has a strong hand in Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes when he saddles likely favourite Uncaptured (Miguel Mena) and stablemate Dynamic Sky (Joel Rosario) in a maximum 14-runner field for the $750,000 event on the Keeneland Polytrack.
Uncaptured, who had Blue Grass rival Java's War well adrift in last year's Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, posted a promising effort on his seasonal debut when he was second to fellow Kentucky Derby hope Black Onyx in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes on the Polytrack at Turfway Park.
That race was only three weeks ago, and the Casse stable believes it will have done him good as he hadn't run for four months beforehand.
Assistant trainer Norm Casse said: "That horse has a ton of heart and a ton of guts and as far as fitness goes he got a ton out of the Spiral. We think he's sitting on a big race."
Java's War (Kenny McPeek/Julien Leparoux) offers a good line to the form of Kentucky Derby favourite Verrazano, who beat him three lengths on dirt in the Tampa Bay Derby, where Dynamic Sky was only fourth.
Dynamic Sky, a closing type, was one place in front of Java's War when they were beaten into second and third behind Joha at this venue in October in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity.
Other leading contenders in a typically open-looking synthetics trial include Polytrack debutant Rydilluc (Gary Contessa/ Edgar Prado), who completed a turf hat-trick in Grade 3 company last month. He must overcome a wide draw.
Todd Pletcher, ever-present in the Derby trials season, saddles Palace Malice (Garrett Gomez), wheeling back in a fortnight after a poor effort in the Louisiana Derby, and Charming Kitten (Joe Bravo).
Balance The Books (Chad Brown/Javier Castellano) was a Grade 3 scorer here in the autumn, while Godolphin's new recruit Footbridge (Eoin Harty/Corey Lanerie) steps right up in class after winning a maiden at Santa Anita.
Blue Grass Stakes
Ladbrokes: 7-2 Java's War, 4 Uncaptured, 5 Rydilluc, 8 Palace Malice, 10 Dynamic Sky, 12 Charming Kitten, Balance The Books, 16 My Name Is Michael, Undrafted, 20 Footbridge, 25 bar
Also on Saturday
Keeneland: Madison Stakes (Grade 1) 7f, AW, 4yo+ f/m (9.35pm BST, live on ATR)
A field of ten is headed by course specialist Holiday For Kitten (Wesley Ward/Elvis Trujillo), who won a Grade 2 over 6f on the Polytrack in October.
Rivals include several formerly trained in Britain, among them ex-Brian Meehan-trained Shumoos (Ben Cecil/Garrett Gomez), former Marco Botti-trained Kune Kune (Joan Scott/Corey Lanerie) and Byrama (Simon Callaghan/Joel Rosario), who started off with Nigel Tinkler.
Keeneland: Jenny Wiley Stakes (Grade 1) 1m½f, turf, 4yo+ f/m (10.05pm BST, live on ATR)
Godolphin's Better Lucky (Tom Albertrani/Eddie Castro), who became a Grade 1 winner in the Matriarch Stakes, makes her seasonal bow in this $300,000 contest, where Daisy Devine (Andrew McKeever/James Graham) is bidding for back-to-back successes.
Last year's Irish Guineas winner Samitar (Chad Brown/Javier Castellano), renews rivalry with Centre Court (Rusty Arnold/ Julien Leparoux), who beat her in the Grade 2 Honey Fox at Gulfstream last month.
Centre Court also did best of these over a half-furlong shorter in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup here in October, where Better Lucky and Samitar were third and fourth behind Dayatthespa.
Ladbrokes: 5-2 Centre Court, 4 Old Tune, Samitar, 6 Daisy Devine, 7 Better Lucky, 12 Quiet Oasis, 16 Abaco, Hard Not to Like, 33 Ausus