Wednesday, April 10, 2013 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., April 10, 2013 – Uncaptured, Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (G3) runner-up at Turfway Park March 23, is the 7-2 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland. He will break from post seven in the 14-horse field.
Post positions for the 89th running of the Blue Grass were drawn Wednesday morning in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion. NBC analyst and long time Turfway Park announcer Mike Battaglia set the morning line.
"(Post seven is) ideal," said Norm Casse, assistant to his father, trainer Mark Casse. "The game plan is for him to hopefully break good and get a good forward position going in to the first turn, and the seven hole is right where you want to be to do something like that.
"I'm excited about (being the morning line favorite). I'm a numbers guy. This is the third 14-horse field in Blue Grass history and the morning line favorite won (the first two). That's a nice little stat in our favor. To be the favorite in a race like this, it's exciting. It's what you want to do."
Uncaptured was undefeated in his first four starts, all sprints over Polytrack at Woodbine in Toronto, including the restricted Clarendon and Vandal stakes and the open Swynford Stakes. He ran into traffic and finished fifth in his next start, Woodbine's 1 1/16-mile Grey Stakes (G3) on Oct. 7. Three weeks later he won the Iroquois (G3) on the dirt at Churchill Downs, followed a month later by a gritty neck victory in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), also on Churchill's dirt.
A four-month layoff followed, broken by his runner-up finish to Black Onyx in the Spiral Stakes. With the Spiral in the books, Casse expects a strong performance on Keeneland's Polytrack surface on Saturday.
"You run in a race like the Spiral, a mile and an eighth, and you hope it builds the foundation to get him ready to run in this race," said Casse. "As far as what we've done since that race, we just took it easy on him--let him have some light gallops and only worked him once over the track. He should be coming into this race in much better physical condition than he was coming into the Turfway race."
After the Spiral Stakes, Miguel Mena, who has the mount again Saturday, told Casse he was "out of horse at the eighth pole, but he (Uncaptured) kept running."
"You can't measure heart with numbers," Casse said. "But just knowing Uncaptured's races, and seeing him run, especially in the Spiral and, more important, in the Jockey Club, he's got more heart than any other horse we've ever trained."
The Blue Grass offers 170 points toward the Kentucky Derby under the new qualification system: 100 to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 for third place, and 10 for fourth. Uncaptured comes in to the Blue Grass ranked 14th on the Derby list with 30 points and $394,674 in non-restricted stakes earnings.
Uncaptured is trained by Mark Casse for John Oxley. The connections also entered Dynamic Sky in the Blue Grass, drawing the rail. He's 10-1 on the morning line off a neck loss in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) two starts back and a fourth behind the Derby's current hot horse, Verrazano, in the Tampa Bay Derby in his last outing.
Four other Spiral Stakes contenders also are entered in the Blue Grass: My Name is Michael (eighth in the Spiral for trainer Bill Mott, post 2 in the Blue Grass at 15-1); Channel Isle (seventh in the Spiral, D. Wayne Lukas, post 6, 30-1); Balance the Books (11th in the Spiral, Chad Brown, post 11, 15-1); and Fear the Kitten (fifth in the Spiral, Mike Maker, post 14, 30-1).
The Blue Grass Stakes is the 10th of 12 races at Keeneland Saturday. The card boasts four other stakes as well: the Commonwealth (G3), Shakertown (G3), Madison (G1), and Jenny Wiley (G1). An all-stakes $250,000 guaranteed Pick 4 begins with the Shakertown, race 7. Turfway offers simulcast wagering on Keeneland's races and other races across the country Wednesday through Sunday each week. Gates open at 11:15 a.m.