100th Running of the Blue Grass Stakes Headlines Keeneland Opening Weekend

100th Running of the Blue Grass Stakes Headlines Keeneland Opening Weekend

Keeneland Opening Weekend is a welcome sign of spring each year in Central Kentucky. Fans flocked to the historic track to experience a great weekend of racing, including seven graded stakes, and celebrate the return of warm weather and sunny days to the Bluegrass state. 

Opening Weekend at Keeneland was headlined by the 100th running of the G1 Blue Grass Stakes, a leading prep race for the Kentucky Derby. Sierra Leone, a son of Three Chimneys Farm stallion Gun Runner, overcame a troubled early start to the race to win by a resounding 1 ½ lengths. The colt now sits atop the Kentucky Derby points standings, with just one prep race left on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Sierra Leone was ridden by Tyler Gaffalione for trainer Chad Brown and owners Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg and Brook Smith.

Leading sire Into Mischief, standing at Spendthrift Farm, was represented by a number of winners across the country over the weekend, including G1 Ashland Stakes winner Leslie’s Rose and G2 Beaumont Stakes winner Denim and Pearls. Leslie’s Rose, trained by Todd Pletcher for owner Whisper Hill Farm, is now a leading contender for the G1 Kentucky Oaks, run on the first Friday in May at Churchill Downs. 

Into Mischief’s son, and fellow Spendthrift Farm stallion Maximus Mischief, was represented by an impressive stakes winner in Glengarry, who won the Lafayette Stakes on Friday, April 5 with jockey Luis Saez aboard. Glengarry is trained by Doug Anderson for owners Aaron Kennedy, Toby Joseph and Doug Anderson.

Arzak picked up his second Keeneland stakes victory in the G2 Shakertown Stakes, a sprint race on the turf. The son of Not This Time, standing at Taylor Made Farm, was making his 2024 debut. The six year old horse is trained by Michael Trombetta for owner Sonata Stable, and had jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard for his win in the Shakertown.

Buchu, a daughter of Coolmore America’s Triple Crown-winning stallion Justify, scored her second graded stakes victory in the G2 Appalachian Stakes on Saturday, April 6 at Keeneland. The three year old filly is a homebred for her owners, Rigney Racing, LLC, and was born and raised at Denali Stud. Jockey Martin Garcia was aboard for trainer Philip Bauer.

Stonestreet Farm is a frequent visitor to the Keeneland winner’s circle, especially when it comes to turf sprint stakes races. Their English-bred colt Fandom (GB) returned to the races after a ten month layoff on Sunday with a late-running victory in the listed Palisades Stakes. Jockey Jose Ortiz was aboard for trainer Wesley Ward.

The Keeneland Spring Meet continues through Friday, April 26, with racing held daily (excluding Mondays and Tuesdays). Plus, all April Horse Country tour guests will receive a free Keeneland General Admission ticket for the members of their tour party to attend one day of the race meet! Check your email for more details, and if you have any questions or have not received your ticket(s), please reach out to our concierge team at [email protected].

Sierra Leone wins the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 6.
Buchu wins the G2 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland on April 6.
Arzak and Irad Ortiz Jr. after winning the G2 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland on April 6.
Fandom (GB) wins the Listed Palisades Stakes at Keeneland on April 7.