Starting last but finishing with a furious burst down the stretch, Java's War won the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky..
Java's War earned a berth in the May 4 Kentucky Derby by moving up from last place to overtake Palace Malice by a neck and win the 89th running of the race in 1:50.27. Charming Kitten finished third.
Java's War broke slowly out of the gate for the 1 1/8-mile prep for the Derby as Rydilluc took the early lead and held it for most of the race. Palace Malice overtook the faltering Rydilluc in the final eighth of a mile and seemed poised to win, only to see Java's War storm past on the outside for the victory.
"I wasn't worried," trainer Ken McPeek said of Java's War's slow break. "That's his style. He's not a horse that's quick out of there. Julien (jockey Leparoux) did the right thing. He got him there. It was thrilling."
The three-year-old son of War Pass had to overcome 13 horses in his dash from last and earn 100 points in the Kentucky Derby standings. Java's War now has 122 points on the leaderboard.
Java's War, with 9-2 odds, paid $11.20, $5.60 and $4. Palace Malice returned $6 and $4.60, while Charming Kitten paid $11.20 to show.