Free Drop Billy returns to Keeneland for Blue Grass Stakes

The Grade II, $1 million Blue Grass Stakes, this Saturday’s feature at Keeneland, carries major Kentucky Derby implications. The race offers 170 total points, with 100 going to the winner in this field of 14 (plus one also-eligible). The 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass goes as Race 10 of 11, with an approximate post time of 6:23 p.m. EST. As always, be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#10 FREE DROP BILLY (5-1) returns to the site of his greatest win, the Breeders’ Futurity, off a decent third in the Gotham. He probably wanted more ground that day and was wide on the far turn. Now he’ll switch to Irad Ortiz Jr. while picking up a furlong. FREE DROP BILLY should get a good mid-pack trip behind a modest pace, so he’s the pick.

#12 FLAMEAWAY (6-1), first in the Sam F. Davis and second in the Tampa Bay Derby, takes his act to Keeneland while retaining Jose Lezcano. He’ll be up close or on the lead based on his last few efforts, which could be advantageous based on the past performances of his competition. Look for FLAMEAWAY to be involved late once more.

#11 GOOD MAGIC (2-1, morning-line favorite), the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, came up empty in his first start at three in the Fountain of Youth. Not helping his cause is the fact that Promises Fulfilled and Strike Power, the top two in that heat, ran up the track in last week’s Florida Derby. GOOD MAGIC keeps Jose Ortiz but must run back to his Breeders’ Cup win or better it to compete in the Blue Grass. Taking 2-1 on him, even off a bullet work, seems like a poor proposition.

#4 KANTHAKA (10-1) seemed to be exposed as a sprinter in the San Felipe, his first start around two turns, but ran into a couple of buzzsaws in Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie. He faces no such confirmed stars in the Blue Grass and lures one of Keeneland’s top riders in Julien Leparoux. Don’t dismiss him at a price.

The play: $2 exacta 10/4,11,12, $2 exacta box 10/12 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Irad Ortiz Jr. is a solid selection for Saturday at Keeneland. In addition to FREE DROP BILLY in the Blue Grass, Ortiz Jr. pilots six horses that are 6-1 or less. That includes Disco Partner (5-2 favorite) in the Shakertown and Lewis Bay (7-2) in the Madison.

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