World-class Thoroughbred racing returns to Central Kentucky for Keenelandâ€™s 2021 Spring Meet, which opens Friday, April 2 and covers 15 days through April 23. Keeneland is welcoming back a limited number of fans to the track this spring while offering multiple opportunities for people to enjoy the meet remotely through its Celebrate Keeneland Presented by Central Bank campaign.
â€śThere are many ways â€“ big and small â€“ for everyone to celebrate Keeneland and take part in the fanfare and traditions they love,â€ť Keeneland Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Christa Marrillia said. â€śWe encourage fans to make the Spring Meet a part of their lives even when they arenâ€™t going to the races. Everyone has their own Keeneland traditions: getting dressed up, making a favorite cocktail, planning a gathering with friends. We have all the tips and tools for you to celebrate Keeneland your way.â€ť
Fans are encouraged to visit CelebrateKeeneland.com and share the creative ways they are celebrating Keeneland by tagging @Keeneland on social media and by using the hashtag #CelebrateKeeneland
Every day during the Spring Meet, races will begin at 1:05 p.m. ET. Keeneland is offering complimentary Digital Programs Presented by Baird by clicking here or through the Keeneland Race Day app available for download on your phone or tablet.
Godolphinâ€™s undefeated homebred Essential Quality, the champion 2-year-old male of 2020, is the 3-5 morning line choice in a field of nine 3-year-olds entered Tuesday for Saturdayâ€™s 97th running of the $800,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) going 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
A major steppingstone for the $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) to be run May 1 at Churchill Downs, the Toyota Blue Grass offers 170 points toward qualification to this yearâ€™s Derby on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the first- through fourth-place finishers. The Derby is limited to the top 20 point earners that pass the entry box.
The Toyota Blue Grass will go as the final race on Saturdayâ€™s 11-race program with a 6:35 p.m. (ET) post time. First post time for the card that features six graded stakes is 1:05 p.m.
Trained by Brad Cox, Essential Quality debuted Sept. 5 at Churchill on Kentucky Derby Day and followed that 6-furlong triumph with victories in Keenelandâ€™s Claiborne Breedersâ€™ Futurity (G1) and the TVG Breedersâ€™ Cup Juvenile (G1) Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance to sew up the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old.
In his lone start of 2021, Essential Quality won the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park by 4ÂĽ lengths on Feb. 27.
On Tuesday morning, Essential Quality made his first appearance on the Keeneland main track since his Breedersâ€™ Cup victory. He galloped about 1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Elver Vargas.
Luis Saez, who has been aboard for Essential Qualityâ€™s past three victories, has the mount Saturday and will break from post position four. Saez won the 2016 Toyota Blue Grass on Brodyâ€™s Cause.
Also on Saturday is the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and Ontario-bred CURLIN’S CATCH (Curlin) is in post 1 at 8 to 1 in the field of 6.