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Apr 11, 2008

Pyro set for big Blue Grass Stakes


Lexington, KY (Sports Network) - Louisiana Derby winner Pyro headlines a field of 12 for Saturday's $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. The 1 1/8 mile race is one of the last major prep races for this year's Kentucky Derby.

Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, Pyro has been made the even-money favorite and will start from post seven with Shaun Bridgmohan returning to ride. Bridgmohan has been the only jockey to ever be on the colt's back.

Pyro has career earnings of $1.05 million with three wins in six starts, going two for two this year. In February he easily won the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds. Last year he was second to War Pass in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Champagne Stakes.

Steve Asmussen, trainer of leading thoroughbred Curlin, conditions Pyro and belives the three-year-old set for a big effort.

"It looks like he's right on target," said Asmussen.

The 4-1 second choice is Fountain of Youth Stakes winner Cool Coal Man. One of Nick Zito's three-year-olds, Cool Coal Man will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux from the inside post.

Zito decided to give Cool Coal Man some extra time to run at Keeneland rather than come back in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 29.

"I really wanted a fresh horse," said Zito. "He's two-for-two this year and he certainly looks good, so I just wanted some kind of chance for this horse in the Derby and I hope we get it. I would prefer to have run on a conventional track like Churchill Downs, but the Blue Grass is a good race and I've been lucky in it a lot of times, too. And I saw what Street Sense did last year, and if he could run that kind of race I'll take it and then maybe we'll get lucky in the big one."

Owned by Robert LaPenta, Cool Coal Man has won both starts this year and has captured four of seven lifetime races for $307,531.

LaPenta and Zito will also start Stevil in the Blue Grass. Coming off a fifth place finish in the Louisiana Derby, the gray colt will start from post four and is 30-1 in the morning-line. No rider has been named.

A pair of horses have been installed as co-third choices. Tampa Bay Derby champ Big Truck and Gotham Stakes winner Visonaire are each 6-1 in the program.

Big Truck, with Eibar Coa riding, will break from post six and Visionaire will start from the far outside with Jose Lezcano in the saddle.

Trainer Barcaly Tagg, fresh off a win in the Wood Memorial with Tale of Ekati, conditions Big Truck for Eric Fein. The colt has won three of seven career starts for $336,880.

Visionaire is owned by Vision Racing and Team Valor, and has Barbaro's trainer Michael Matz in charge. The chestnut colt was third to Pyro in the Risen Star Stakes two months back.

The three-year-old has banked $228,260 with three wins in five lifetime starts.

Here is the complete field in position oder for the Blue Grass Stakes: Cool Coal Man, Kent Desormeaux, 4-1; Kentucky Bear, Jamie Theriot, 50-1; Cowboy Cal, John Velazquez, 15-1; Stevil, no rider, 30-1; Monba, Edgar Prado, 15-1; Big Truck, Eibar Coa, 6-1; Pyro, Shaun Bridgmohan, 1-1; Stone Bird, Corey Lanerie, 50-1; Medjool, Michael Baze, 30-1; Miners Claim, Patrick Husbands, 20-1; Halo Najib, Garrett Gomez, 15-1 and Visionaire, Jose Lezcano, 6-1.

Todd Pletcher trains both Cowboy Cal and Monba.

Last year Street Sense followed a second place finish to Dominican in the Blue Grass with a win in the Run for the Roses and a second to Curlin in the Preakess Stakes.

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