Jim and Donna Daniell’s Rushie, third behind Honor A. P. in the June 6 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his most recent start, drew post 10 in the 13-horse field for Saturday’s $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2).
“I’m fine with the draw,” trainer Michael McCarthy said Wednesday afternoon from his base at Del Mar. “He’s very tactical. He’s got plenty of natural ability and natural speed. I would imagine he’d probably be laying somewhere in that first group of horses going into the first turn.”
Rushie will be ridden by Javier Castellano, who won the 2019 Toyota Blue Grass aboard Vekoma.
McCarthy has had only two starters at Keeneland, and Rushie will become his first runner in the Toyota Blue Grass. The colt is a member of the first crop of Liam’s Map, who won the 2015 Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland. Liam’s Map is the sire of another Toyota Blue Grass hopeful, Basin.
Rushie is out of the Colonel John mare Conquest Angel, whose half-sister Peace and War won Keeneland’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) in 2014. His family also includes last year’s Darley Alcibiades winner, champion British Idiom.
Rushie is not nominated to the Triple Crown, but his performance in the Toyota Blue Grass might change that status.
“We’re going to let him earn his way to the first Saturday in September – that sounds strange to say that,” McCarthy said about the rescheduled Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). “If he were to run well, it’s something that the Daniells and myself would go ahead and think about. There are plenty of races out there later in the summer and in the fall all over the country that will be worth taking a look at, so let’s see what happens.
“If he jumps up and runs well, I guess we have to think about something like that. It’s a good problem to have.”
McCarthy has entered Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Madaket Stables’ Speech in both Friday’s $100,000 Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select and Saturday’s $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1). In her last race, Speech was second to Swiss Skydiver in the Santa Anita Oaks (G2). Swiss Skydiver will face Rushie in the Toyota Blue Grass.
“I like the idea of the Beaumont, the one turn on the Beard Course,” he said referring to the stakes’ distance of 7 furlongs, 184 feet. “Just thought it would be a good idea for insurance to go ahead and enter in the Ashland just in case something crazy happened over the next 48 hours.”
So he’s leaning toward the Beaumont for Speech?
“Ah …… Not sure yet.”