Projected fields for Keeneland’s opening weekend
The Keeneland Spring Meet begins Friday with a two-year-old maiden, and one of last year’s top freshmen, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Oscar Performance, reappears in the featured $150,000 Transylvania (G3).
The fields are firming up for Saturday’s blockbuster card, anchored by the $1 million Blue Grass (G2), a scoring race worth a total of 170 points toward the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Unbeaten McCraken, the 5-1 favorite in Pool 4 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager that closed Sunday evening, is expected to take on Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Tapwrit; Gotham (G3) victor J Boys Echo; Hopeful (G1) and Champagne (G1) scorer Practical Joke; Wild Shot, third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) here last fall but subsequently chasing both McCraken and Tapwrit; John Battaglia Memorial conqueror It’s Your Nickel; and CashCall Futurity (G1) placer Irap in the 1 1/8-mile test.
The $500,000 Ashland (G1), a 170-point race for fillies aiming for the Kentucky Oaks (G1), could draw a small group. Keeneland lists only four as probable – Pocahontas (G2) winner Daddys Lil Darling, who was runner-up in the Alcibiades (G1) over this track and 1 1/16-mile trip in October; the Mark Casse pair of Spinaway (G1) dead-heater Pretty City Dancer, a disappointing sixth in the Davona Dale (G2), and Summer Luck, a good third in the same Gulfstream prep; and well-regarded Elate, a closing third in the Honeybee (G3). Tapa Tapa Tapa, who upset Elate in the Suncoast but was fourth in the Honeybee, and recent Santa Anita allowance winner Princess Karen are the possibles.
La Brea (G1) star Constellation tops the likely cast for the $300,000 Madison (G1) for older fillies and mares over seven furlongs. Multiple Grade 2 vixen Paulassilverlining, third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), and Fleur de Lis (G2) winner Paid Up Subscriber, last seen finishing second in the Spinster (G1) during the Fall Meet, are both slated to make their debuts for Chad Brown. Paulassilverlining is now owned by Juddmonte, while Paid Up Subscriber races in the Peter Brant colors after selling for $1.1 million at Fasig-Tipton in November. Barbara Fritchie (G2) winner High Ridge Road, two-time Correction heroine Clothes Fall Off, Spring Fever scorer Kathballu, Mines and Magic, and Inside Information (G2) runner-up Wheatfield are also in the mix.
Multiple Grade 1 star A. P. Indian, elevated to third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), is set to return in the $250,000 Commonwealth (G3). Limousine Liberal, who was just outdueled by A. P. Indian in last October’s Phoenix (G2) here prior to a promoted fourth in the Breeders’ Cup, tries again. The seven-furlong affair for older sprinters is expected to lure the streaking Yockey’s Warrior; unbeaten class climber Redesdale; Dwyer (G3) winner Fish Trappe Road; Gulfstream Park H. (G2) runner-up Awesome Slew; Fred W. Hooper (G3) third Tale of S’avall; Seeking the Soul, an allowance winner at about this distance last fall; California shipper Cautious Giant; and Ohio-bred Riding in the Wind.
Mongolian Saturday, who scored his biggest wins at Keeneland in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and 2016 Woodford (G3), will try to add another 5 1/2-furlong turf dash in the $200,000 Shakertown (G2). Rainbow Heir, the near-misser in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint in his latest; Hogy and Green Mask, the top two from the recent Colonel Power; Holding Gold, unraced since finishing seventh behind Mongolian Saturday and Hogy in the Woodford; and Turfway track record-setter Blue Wings round out the probables.
On Sunday, Keeneland will stage the penultimate Kentucky Oaks points race, the $150,000 Beaumont (G3), offering a 10-4-2-1 point structure to the top four finishers. Albiciades winner Dancing Rags and Spinaway dead-heater Sweet Loretta are both in line to make their sophomore bows over the Beard Course of seven furlongs, 184 feet. They’ve been on vacation since their unplaced efforts (eighth and 11th respectively) in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Also likely to compete are California Oaks runner-up Tapped; My Miss Chiff, undefeated versus Louisiana-breds; Laney, who’s won her past two in starter and optional claiming company (the latter when risked for a $75,000 tag at Tampa); and Promises Broken. Sounds Delicious, unbeaten versus lesser, is regarded as possible.
Saturday’s card will be drawn Tuesday, with Sunday’s program to be finalized on Thursday.
We’ll be back on the blog later this week for Blue Grass Day coverage. In the meantime, be sure to visit our news channel, Brisnet.com, for updates and race previews.
Scenic photo courtesy Keeneland/Coady Photography