LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Favored Vekoma pulled away down the stretch to earn a 3-plus-length victory in the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday and take a big step toward the Kentucky Derby.
The chestnut colt followed up last month's third-place finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes with his third win in four career starts.
Vekoma started from the No. 2 post and was among the leaders throughout before gaining room from Somelikeithotbrown and Signalman nearing the final turn. Win Win Win charged down the stretch, but the George Weaver-trained horse was in control of the Grade 2 race by then and earned 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, Vekoma covered 1 1/8th miles in 1:50.93 and paid $4.80, $3.20 and $2.60.
Win Win Win returned $4 and $3.20 for second and earned 40 points, while Signalman paid $3.60 to show and earned 20 points. Somelikeithotbrown earned 10 points for fourth.
Also Saturday, Keeneland says that filly Cathedral Reader was euthanized after a "catastrophic injury'' sustained during the Madison Stakes.
Cathedral Reader's death comes amid scrutiny of the sport following the deaths of 23 horses at Santa Anita since Dec. 26.
Keeneland said in a statement that the Kentucky bred will undergo a necropsy at the University of Kentucky Diagnostic Lab. The track and Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will investigate factors such as surface conditions, past performances and veterinary records.
Keeneland also expressed sympathy to owner GMB Racing and trainer Dallas Stewart over the horse's death. The 4-year-old was among the leaders racing four-wide coming off the turn in the Grade 1, seven-furlong race when "something went wrong'' near the quarter pole, race notes stated.
Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. pulled the horse up sharply and she was taken off in a van and later euthanized. Stewards reviewed the race won by Spiced Perfection and upheld the finish. It was the track's first death since the spring meet opened on Thursday.
Cathedral Reader had three wins, two seconds and a third in nine career starts. One of her victories came in an allowance race at Keeneland on Oct. 26.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report