The Blue Grass Stakes has long been considered one of the top Kentucky Derby prep races–at least until the past few years. The move to a synthetic racing surface has caused it to lose some of is importance and the connections of many top three year olds have bypassed the race. One horse that didn’t was Dance With Fate who won Saturday’s 2014 edition of the Blue Grass Stakes in a mild upset.
For much of the past month the biggest story coming out of Keeneland was their decision to replace their synthetic track with dirt–the latest track to do so in an anti-synthetic trend that is sweeping the US racing industry. On Saturday, however, it was all about the racing and Dance With Fate crossed the wire first as a 6-1 betting choice. Medal Count and Pablo del Monte finished second and third respectively.
With the victory Dance With Fate earns 100 qualifying points and is guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby but it doesn’t look like he’ll go. Dance With Fate is something of a synthetic track specialist and his connections are hesitant to make the move from Keeneland’s synthetic turf to the dirt at Churchill Downs. Trainer Peter Eurton also indicated that the quick turnaround was an issue is tentatively deciding to forego the Derby:
“I don’t know [if we'll go to the Derby]; it’s pretty quick three weeks back and I know he likes synthetic, I just don’t know if he likes dirt.”
Later, Eurton elaborated on the horse’s preference for synthetic surfaces:
“He doesn’t have the power to get through dirt. It will break away from him. I’ve seen him train over synthetics, and he gets over it so much easier.”
Winning jockey Corey Nakatani said that he’s not surprised about Eurton’s preference not to bring Dance With Fate back so quickly:
“I know Pete’s style. He tends to not run them back quick. He truly loves his horses.”
The field is finally coming in to shape for the May 4 Kentucky Derby and assuming that Dance With Fate isn’t going to make the trip that’s good news for horses ‘on the bubble’ who’ll be able to move up the points ranking due to his departure.