LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Stately Victor emerged from the pack to run off to the biggest upset in the 86-year history of the Blue Grass Stakes, scoring by 4¼ lengths at 40-1 on Saturday at Keeneland and putting himself in the gate for the May 1 Kentucky Derby.
With Alan Garcia aboard for trainer Mike Maker, and before a near-record ontrack crowd, Stately Victor returned $82.20 with just his second career victory in the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass. Paddy O'Prado, who turned for home with an open lead, finished second, a length before his Dale Romans-trained stablemate, First Dude. Interactif, the 3-1 favorite, was another 1½ lengths back in fourth.
Maker, the former longtime D. Wayne Lukas assistant whose stable is thriving, said afterward that Stately Victor would run in the 136th Derby while training at Trackside, just a few miles from Churchill Downs.
"I've always been high on this horse," Maker said. "I never quit believing in him. He was one of those horses you made excuses for every time."
Maker already has another Derby starter in Dean's Kitten, winner of the March 27 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park.
Odysseus set the early pace from the rail in the Blue Grass, followed closely by Paddy O'Prado to the outside. Midway through the far turn, Paddy O'Prado suddenly spurted clear under Kent Desormeaux, and it was his race to lose. It was only the amazing stretch run of Stately Victor, who had enjoyed a good trip while racing sixth of nine much of the way, that foiled his effort. Stately Victor finished the 1⅛-mile distance in 1:48.69 over Polytrack.
"I was very impressed with him," Garcia said.
Prior to Saturday, Stately Victor had run seven times, winning a maiden turf route at Saratoga last summer in his second start, then reeling off five straight races without finishing any better than fifth -- hence his huge odds Saturday. His only stakes attempt came in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last fall, when he was sixth with a very wide trip.
Stately Victor is owned by Louisville attorney Tom Conway and his son, Jack Conway, the attorney general of Kentucky. Stately Victor is named for Victor Perrone, a late boyhood friend of Jack Conway's. The colt earned $450,000 with the win.
This was the second enormous upset in four years for Maker in a major Derby prep on a synthetic track in Kentucky. Maker sent out With a City to win the 2006 Lane's End at 48-1.
Dust Commander, the 1970 winner at 35-1, had been the previous longest-priced winner of the Blue Grass.
Paddy O'Prado earned $150,000 for second and is now on the bubble for Derby eligibility. Romans said he would "like a shot at the Derby."
The Saturday results badly damaged, if not altogether crushed, the Derby hopes of the also-rans. After Interactif, the order was Codoy, Make Music for Me, Pleasant Prince, Aikenite, and Odysseus.
Attendance on an ideal spring afternoon was 33,727, barely short of the 33,821 that turned out for the Lexington Stakes on April 21, 2007.