It’s expected to be a fun battle of Kentucky Derby hopefuls for the opening weekend at Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, Kentucky. The morning line favorite, Smile Happy, will have to navigate a sloppy track in order to secure favorite status for next month’s Kentucky Derby. The track is a familiar one for the horse and trainer, Kenny McPeek, who is from Lexington, has won the Blue Green Stakes twice before.
The usual big trainer names in racing also have entries. CommandPerformance (12-1) and Emmanuel (5-1) are the two Todd Pletcher entries. Ethereal Road, at 15-1 odds, is an interesting longshot and at product of D. Wayne Lukas’ training. A lot of handicappers are looking at Ethereal Road on a ticket and a top-four finish could get the 86-year-old Lukas his first Derby entry since 2018.
And Bob Baffert has ... well the sliver-haired fox and horse racing’s greatest heel has no entries and is blacklisted from the tracks after doping up Medina Spirit before the 2021 Kentucky Derby. But long shot Blackadder (20-1) is a former Baffert horse now trained by Rodolphe Brisset.
This is widely expected to be a battle between Smile Happy and Zandon (5-2). Neither horse ran particularly well in their previous race, the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes. Smile Happy took second while Zandon close behind at third. With track conditions expected to be messy, it’s the type of race that the favorites will have to run cleanly or someone else in the field of 12 will turn Smile Happy into a frown.
The 2022 Keeneland Blue Grass Stakes will be broadcast on NBC. The coverage window is 4:30-6 with expected post time at 5:10.
2022 Keeneland Blue Grass Stakes post positions with morning line
1. CommandPerformance, 12-1
2. Fenwick, 20-1
3. Trademark, 30-1
4. Zandon, 5-2 (Chad Brown)
5. Volanic, 20-1
6. Emmanuel, 5-1 (Pletcher)
7. Golden Glider, 20-1
8. Ethereal Road, 15-1 (D. Wayne Lukas)
9. Rattle N Roll, 8-1 (McPeek)
10. Smile Happy, 9-5 (Kenny McPeek, wins at Keeneland in 2002 and 2013)
11. Blackadder, 20-1
12. Grantham, 15-1