If you find yourself at the race track today, you can anticipate a huge crowd, even by "Saturdays at Keeneland" standards. The eighty-ninth running of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes will commence this afternoon at 6:00 p.m. The Blue Grass Stakes (G1), is perhaps the most important race of Keeneland's racing year, generating at least one Derby contender. That's a lot of information to take in, but it's pretty easy to talk about Big Races like a pro. Here's what you need to know:
- Obviously, the really fast horses run in the big money, high stakes races. These races are graded by purse amounts. (A "purse" is the total amount of money paid out to the owners of the winning horses. Usually, horses placing first through fifth are eligible for a portion of the purse.)
- Any race considered for grading must have a total purse value of at least $75,000. The Grades are "Listed" -- at least $75K; "Grade III" -- at least $100K; "Grade II" -- at least $150K; and "Grade I" -- at least $200K.
- The Blue Grass Stakes is a Grade I Race with a $500,000 purse.
- Purse earnings formerly determined horses' eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. As of this racing season, horses qualify for Derby through a points system. You can find the entire list of Derby qualifying races here.
- The winner of the Blue Grass Stakes is awarded 100 points and is guaranteed a slot in the Kentucky Derby. This is the highest point-value race run in Kentucky.
Blue Grass Stakes Stats
- The Blue Grass Stakes was first staged in 1911.
- The race is 1 1/8 miles and is run on synthetic turf.
- The fastest time for the current Stakes distance is 1:47.94, as run by Dullahan in 2012.
- The Blue Grass Stakes is currently sponsored by Toyota.
- There are 14 horses (and one "also-eligible") in this year's field. You can study their stats here.
One more tip: Wear the cutest dress you own, because everybody will be at the track today!