LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)Smile Happy is the 9-5 morning line favorite and will start from the No. 10 post among 12 horses for the $1 million Blue Grass at Keeneland race course.
One of two Kenny McPeek-trained colts in Saturday’s qualifier for next month’s Kentucky Derby, Smile Happy ran second to Derby points leader Epicenter in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds in February after wins at Churchill Downs and Keeneland as a 2-year-old.
Zandon, trained by Chad Brown, is the 5-2 second choice from the No. 4 post with Todd Pletcher’s Emmanuel the third choice at 5-1 from the No. 6 post.
Smile Happy’s stablemate, Rattle N Roll, is 8-1 after drawing the No. 9 post for Keeneland’s marquee stakes race elevated to Grade 1 status for the first time since 2016. The purse was also raised $200,000 back to $1 million for the first time in three years.
The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds will award 100, 40, 20 and 10 points respectively to the top four for the 148th Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs. The top 20 points earners during the racing season qualify for the Derby.
The Blue Grass highlights opening weekend for Keeneland’s 15-day spring meet that on Saturday will feature five graded stakes races worth $2.2 million.
Pletcher’s filly, Nest, is the 2-1 favorite among eight entrants for Friday’s $600,000 Ashland. The Grade 1 feature on the opening-day card will award 170 total points toward the Kentucky Oaks on May 6. The top 14 points earners qualify for the Oaks.