Keeneland announced that the 99th running of the $1 million Blue Grass S. (G1) on April 8, the opening weekend of this year’s Spring Meet, has attracted 141 nominees topped by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Kentucky-bred Forte, last year’s Eclipse Champion 2-Year-Old Colt.

Forte concluded his 2022 championship campaign sweeping both the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland. Bred in Kentucky by South Gate Farm, Forte was a $110,000 Keeneland September Sale graduate in 2021. To date, the son of Violence has won four of five starts and bankrolled more than $1.5 million. Forte is slated to make his 2023 seasonal bow for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, March 4.

Trainer Brad Cox nominated 16 runners, including Kentucky-bred Hit Show, winner of this year’s Withers S. (G3) at Aqueduct for Gary and Mary West, and Kentucky-bred Instant Coffee, winner of this year’s Lecomte S. (G3) in his first start of the year. Owned by Gold Square, Instant Coffee captured last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup S. (G2) at Churchill Downs, and overall, has won three of four starts, earning $442,815. The son of Bolt d’Oro was bred in Kentucky by Sagamore Farm and was a $200,000 Keeneland September graduate in 2021.

“As Keeneland’s signature race, the Toyota Blue Grass is the crown jewel in our Spring Meet stakes program,” said Gatewood Bell, Keeneland’s vice president of racing. “It’s exciting to see so many of the nation’s top sophomores and stables represented among the nominees, and we look forward to the outstanding competition on opening weekend.”