Keeneland Barn Notes -- Sunday, March 31

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Nipissing Brings Undefeated Record into Central Bank Ashland

Chiefswood Stables’ homebred Nipissing arrived at Keeneland on Saturday with plans to begin her 2013 campaign in the 76th running of the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1).

Nipissing is traveling the same road to the Ashland used last year by another homebred Canadian filly, Hard Not to Like, who finished second to Karlovy Vary in the 1 1/16-mile test.

Undefeated in four starts over Polytrack at Woodbine last year, Nipissing spent her winter at Payson Park in South Florida as Hard Not to Like had done the year before.

“We gave her off six weeks at the end of last year and started her back at the first of the year,” said trainer Rachel Halden, who took Nipissing out for some light exercise through light rain and fog here Sunday morning.

“At Payson, you definitely get a lot more out of them than at other places. That is also why I opted to stay there for her final breeze rather than coming here for it.”

Nipissing worked five furlongs in 1:02.30 last Thursday, her third five-eighths breeze of the month.

"I am very happy with where she is,” said Halden, a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield. “This is not the ideal starting point, but her options were very limited and she had run through her conditions. With Woodbine opening later than usual this year, we needed to get her a start as our main objective is the Woodbine Oaks.”

The Woodbine Oaks, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, is scheduled for June 9 at 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack. Prior to that race, sitting on May 3, is the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.

“She is nominated to that,” said Halden, who has been training on her own for six years and has three horses here. “If she were to jump up and win here, maybe it would be a consideration.”

Steve Bahen, who has been aboard Nipissing in her four starts, will have the mount Saturday.

Entries for the Ashland will be taken Wednesday.

 

Work Tab

Gary Barber and Stoneway Farm’s Spring Venture, winner of the Mazarine (G3) on Polytrack last fall at Woodbine, worked a half-mile in :48.20 under exercise rider Jason Hoyte in preparation for a probable run in Saturday’s Central Bank Ashland. Mark Casse trains Spring Venture.

Also working toward a likely Ashland run was Martin Schwartz’s Wave Theory, who covered a half-mile in :49.20 in company with Gustavia for trainer Chad Brown.

Also on the work tab for Brown were Noble Tune, who is pointing to the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and Big Blue Kitten, a nominee to the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1).

Owned by Schwartz and Dell Ridge Farm, Noble Tune covered a half-mile in :49.60 while working in company with Play Bull, an unraced four-year-old. Second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last fall, Noble Tune has won three of four starts.

Big Blue Kitten, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, worked a half-mile in :49.20 in company  with Kya One (FR), a five-year-old graded stakes-winning mare. Fractions on the work were :12.40, :24, :36.40 and out five furlongs in 1:02.80.

Galloping Out

Beginning Monday, there will be a maintenance break for harrowing at 8 a.m. each morning throughout the meet that opens Friday and runs through April 26. …

Nominations close Wednesday for five stakes that will highlight the third week of the 16-day meet. The stakes are the $100,000 Appalachian (G3) for three-year-old fillies going a mile on the turf on April 18; the $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (G3) for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the main track on April 19; the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (G3) for three-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the main track April 20; the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway for fillies and mares going 5½ furlongs on the turf April 20; and, the $150,000 Ben Ali (G3) for four-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles on the main track.             

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