LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Something about marquee races at Keeneland seems to bring out the best in Brody's Cause, whose latest triumph on the picturesque track placed him squarely in Kentucky Derby contention.
Trainer Dale Romans didn't mince words about the horse's prospects in racing's signature event after Saturday's impressive Blue Grass victory.
''We're going into the Kentucky Derby in perfect form,'' Romans said after Brody's Cause stormed to the front entering the stretch and rolled to a 1 3/4-length victory in the $1 million Blue Grass to earn his chance to Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Brody's Cause won there last September, one of three victories with a third in six career starts.
The Kentucky-bred colt stalked the leaders coming into the final turn before surging ahead for his second win in three Grade 1 Keeneland starts. His other triumph was last fall in the Breeders' Futurity, followed by a third to leading Derby contender Nyquist in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
With Luis Saez aboard for the first time, Brody's Cause ran 1 1/8 miles on a sunny, cool day in 1:50.20 and paid $10.40, $5 and $3.40. He earned 100 points toward the May 7 Derby at Churchill Downs and stands fifth with 114.
''He was rolling,'' Saez said. ''He was asking me to let him go and I let him go. When we came to the stretch I knew he would be there.''
My Man Sam edged Cherry Wine by a head for second. My Man Sam returned $5.80 and $4, and Cherry Wine paid $3.60 to show.
Brody's Cause certainly needed a rebound after getting bumped at the start and running seventh last month in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. Returning to Keeneland seemed to do the trick as the son of Giant's Causeway took his time on the fast dirt before taking charge in the stretch and clearing the 14-horse field.
''I think he's just a horse that needed a race,'' Romans added of Brody's Cause.
My Man Sam earned 40 Derby points, Cherry Wine, 20, and Laoban 10.
Way back was race favorite Zulu, one of three Todd Pletcher-trained entrants in the packed field. The Fountain of Youth runner-up to Mohaymen sought to add his first stakes win and was up close early after starting from the No. 4 post position before fading late.
''Zulu seemed to be paying a lot of attention to all the horses around him and not so much to running,'' Pletcher assistant Tristan Barry said of Zulu's run.
In other Grade 1 stakes races:
Long shot Weep No More charged from a distant fourth down the stretch to win the $500,000 Ashland by a neck over Rachel's Valentina and previously unbeaten favorite Cathryn Sophia. The 30-1 choice lagged far behind the field before jockey Corey Lanerie rallied Weep No More in the final yards for the stunning upset in the Grade 1 fillies prep for the Kentucky Oaks. Weep No More has three straight wins in four starts, including back-to-back stakes victories.
Sheer Drama rallied past Stopchargingmaria to win the $300,000 Grade 1 Madison for older fillies and mares by a neck.