Sierra Leone charges from the back to win the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Sierra Leone rebounded from a testy entry to the gate and a tail-end run through the backstretch to overtake Just A Touch down the stretch and win the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths on Saturday at Keeneland to qualify for next month’s 150th Kentucky Derby.

The 8-5 favorite, one of three Chad Brown-trained entries in the 10-horse field, overcame several challenges — starting when he entered the No. 10 far outside post. Sierra Leone appeared to be in position after resisting, then backed out a second time before finally settling.

He lagged behind for much of the race as 15-1 long shot Top Conor, another Brown pupil, and Just A Touch set the pace through the backstretch.

The bay colt then surged through the final turn to catch the leaders and added more space from Just A Touch to earn 100 points in the qualifying standings for the Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs. Epic Ride was third.

With Tyler Gaffalione aboard, Sierra Leone covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.08 and paid $5.32, $3.28 and $3.06.

Just A Touch returned $4.24 and $3.71 and earned 50 Derby points, while Epic Ride paid $9.12 and picked up 25 points.

Encino, one of two Brad Cox-trained entries, was scratched Saturday morning after drawing 12-1 odds from the far No. 11 post.


AP sports:

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up