Bobby Zen

He wasn’t the most cooperative at the stalls and he left himself plenty to do over a Keeneland main track that was playing kind to speed over the course of the afternoon, but ‘TDN Rising Star’ Sierra Leone (c, 3, Gun Runner–Heavenly Love, by Malibu Moon) saved his best for last and cemented his status as one of the top couple of contenders for the GI Kentucky Derby with a fast-finishing victory in the 100th running of the GI Toyota Blue Grass S. Saturday afternoon. The lanky bay colt was to be the last to load in gate 10, but he proved a bit difficult to handle, delaying the start of the Blue Grass by about three minutes. A bit easy in the market, having touched 6-5 before leaving the gates at odds just north of 8-5, the $2.3-million topper from the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale was perhaps a half-step slow to begin, but slid down into the two path and raced last but one into the first turn as stablemate Top Conor (Twirling Candy) cut out sharp fractions on the front end. Patiently handled at the tail by Tyler Gaffalione, Sierra Leone still had a double-digit gap to bridge as they raced into the final half-mile. Angled in for a two-path run around the far turn, Sierra Leone began pick off rivals and was steered wide outside of Be You (Curlin) into the lane. Just a Touch (Justify), prominent throughout, hit the front in upper stretch, but the lead was short-lived, as Sierra Leone gathered him up with relative ease while lugging in a bit entering the final sixteenth of a mile and strode clear. The win was the third in the Blue Grass for trainer Chad Brown.

Saturday, Keeneland
TOYOTA BLUE GRASS S.-GI, $995,782, Keeneland, 4-6, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:50.08, ft.
1–SIERRA LEONE, 123, c, 3, by Gun Runner
               1st Dam: Heavenly Love (GISW, $346,200), by Malibu Moon
               2nd Dam: Darling My Darling, by Deputy Minister
               3rd Dam: Roamin Rachel, by Mining
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($2,300,000 Ylg ’22 FTSAUG). ‘TDN Rising Star’. O-Peter M. Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg and Brook T. Smith; B-Debby M. Oxley (KY); T-Chad C. Brown; J-Tyler Gaffalione. $581,250. Lifetime Record: 4-3-1-0, $918,000. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus* Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Just a Touch, 123, c, 3, Justify–Touching Beauty, by Tapit. 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($170,000 RNA Ylg ’22 KEESEP; $125,000 Ylg ’22 FTKOCT; $300,000 2yo ’23 OBSAPR). O-Qatar Racing, LLC, Resolute Racing and Marc Detampel; B-Don Alberto Corporation (KY); T-Brad H. Cox. $187,500.
3–Epic Ride, 123, c, 3, Blame–Pick a Time, by Gio Ponti. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE, 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($160,000 Ylg ’22 KEESEP). O-Welch Racing LLC; B-Fred W. Hertrich (KY); T-John Ennis. $93,750.
Margins: 1HF, 3 3/4, 1 1/4. Odds: 1.66, 3.31, 51.37.
Also Ran: Dornoch, Mugatu, Top Conor, Seize the Grey, Be You, Lat Long, Good Money. Scratched: Encino.
Click for the Equibase.com chart and the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

#10 SIERRA LEONE ($5.32) explodes down the stretch to win Keeneland’s $1,000,000 Blue Grass Stakes (G1)!@Tyler_Gaff gave the son of @Three_Chimneys‘s Gun Runner a perfectly-timed ride for trainer Chad Brown. Congratulations to the connections! pic.twitter.com/giC8STcap4

— TVG (@TVG) April 6, 2024

The post Sierra Leone Stamps His Authority On The Blue Grass appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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