COASTLINE WORKS FOR TOYOTA BLUE GRASS
John Oxley’s Coastline put in his final major work for next Saturday’s $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) by working five furlongs in company in 1:00.40.
With jockey Stewart Elliott aboard, the gray Speightstown colt posted fractions of :12.40, :23.80 and :35.20 while racing on even terms with Noble Bird, a 3-year-old maiden (pictured at left).
“It was a nice, easy work without much gallop out, which is what we normally do,” trainer Mark Casse said. “I thought it was good; just what the doctor ordered.”
Coastline broke his maiden here last fall in his second start and won a stakes at Churchill Downs before finishing 2013 with an eighth-place finish in the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) in which he stumbled at the start.
After two disappointing efforts to begin 2014, Coastline finished third in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral (G3) on March 22, beaten just a head.
“Maybe he just did not like the track at Oaklawn, at least I hope so,” Casse said. “That is a different track and that is why I took him out of there. But he loves Churchill Downs.”
Elliott, who rode Coastline for the first time in the Spiral, has the mount for the Toyota Blue Grass.
Casse, as agent, purchased Coastline for $190,000 at Keeneland’s 2012 September Yearling Sale.
DIRT EXPERIMENT OVER, ISTANFORD READY FOR CENTRAL BANK ASHLAND
Saturday’s Central Bank Ashland (G1) offers 100 points to the winner toward the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1). Should Istanford corral those points, a trip to Churchill Downs would not be a slam dunk.
Owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash and Sam Alley, Istanford had one start on dirt. That race has been her worst in five starts when she was last in the Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds in January.
“One would think with her pedigree she should like the dirt,” trainer Mike Stidham said. “That’s why we took the shot. But these horses, they will tell you.”
The daughter of Istan told Stidham she apparently prefers grass and synthetic surfaces to dirt even though her sire was a graded stakes winner whose major victory was an 8¾-length victory in the 2007 Ack Ack Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs.
Istanford was away from the races nearly two months before returning to grass with a runner-up effort behind likely Central Bank Ashland favorite Testa Rossi (FR) in the Florida Oaks (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs on March 9.
“She ran well in Florida and has been doing good,” Stidham said. “She breezed well here Sunday (:49 for a half-mile).”
Joe Rocco Jr., who was aboard in the Florida Oaks, has the mount Saturday and will break from post position one.
“She’s fast and drew inside, so she’ll go and we’ll see what develops,” Stidham said.
ROSARIO RETURNS TO KEENELAND
Today is opening day of the 2014 Spring Meet and marks the Keeneland return for jockey Joel Rosario, who is named on mounts in six races. Rosario has not ridden here since April 2013, when he captured the leading rider title with 38 victories.
Rosario’s performance last year set a record for most wins by a jockey in a Spring Meet. The previous record of 32 wins was set by Randy Romero during the 1990 Spring Meet. Pat Day holds the overall record of 45 wins set during the 1991 Fall Meet.
Rosario boosted his 2013 Spring Meet totals with two five-win days and three four-win days. He won four stakes during the season, all graded events. He begins this season with 44 career wins at Keeneland, where his seven stakes wins include the 2010 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) with Harmonious and the 2011 Toyota Blue Grass (G1) with Brilliant Speed.
This time last year, Rosario already had won the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) on Animal Kingdom. On the first Saturday in May, he would ride Orb to win the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1).
Rosario’s Keeneland schedule during this year’s Spring Meet includes several other engagements. On Saturday, he will participate in a Q&A with Keeneland fans that is hosted by Katie Gensler. The event in the Paddock begins at 12:05 p.m. ET.
On April 17, Rosario will receive the sixth Hartack Memorial Award from the Bill Hartack Charitable Foundation. The annual award honors the memory and lifetime achievements of the five-time winner of the Kentucky Derby. The award will be presented following the last race that day in the Limestone Café in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion.
For more information, visit billhartackfoundation.com.
MYOSITIS DAN RAISES AWARENESS FOR DISEASE
The 2-1 morning-line favorite in Saturday’s eighth race at Keeneland is Brereton C. Jones’ homebred Myositis Dan, a 3-year-old son of Istan named to bring awareness to a disease that might be unfamiliar to many people.
According to The Myositis Association, Myositis is a muscle disease that is idiopathic, meaning its cause is unknown. Nearly 50% of those who have the disease will eventually end up needing a wheelchair.
“Gov. Jones named the horse in honor of someone who died from myositis and hopes ‘Dan’s’ success on the track will create greater awareness of the disease,” said Bob Goldberg, executive director of The Myositis Association, which is based in Alexandria, Va.
Goldberg, who 20 years ago was a columnist for Daily Racing Form, said Questcor Pharmaceuticals has given the association a grant to promote Myositis Dan with gear such as Dan’s Fans caps for myositis patients, DVDs of Dan’s races and other materials available at association events to let people know about the horse’s success.
Tom Proctor trains Myositis Dan, who earned the first win of his career last October at Keeneland. He enters Saturday’s race with one win in six starts and earnings of $54,645.
POTENTIAL BUYERS SEE APRIL SALE HORSES
Keeneland’s 22nd April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale is on Monday, April 7, and begins at 4 p.m. On Thursday, potential buyers were able to see the sale horses in action during the Preview Show.
Consistently excellent times and a crowd of potential buyers marked yesterday’s event.
“Conditions could not have been more perfect,” Keeneland Associate Director of Sales Tom Thornbury said. “We had a little bit of rain (Thursday) morning and had cool conditions, which helps tighten the track. We had a 15- to 20-mph tail wind for the horses going down the lane. It couldn’t have been better. The times were sparkling.
“Our consignors brought us really, really high-quality physical stock with a whole lot of pedigree, and they performed the way they were meant to.”
Hip No. 61 (pictured at left), a colt by Medaglia d’Oro who is out of Grade 1 winner Victory Ride, breezed a quarter-mile in :20, the fastest time at the distance. The colt, a half-brother to the dam of Grade 1-placed 3-year-old Ride On Curlin, is consigned by Eddie Woods, agent.
The fastest horse to work an eighth-mile was Hip No. 69, a Sky Mesa colt who covered the distance in :9.2. Out of the Grand Slam mare Alfonsina, he is consigned by Sequel Bloodstock, agent.
Fans can follow sale activities via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@keenelandsales, using #KEEAPRIL).
OPENING WEEKEND SPECIAL EVENTS
Friday, April 4
Opening Day and College Scholarship Day. Keeneland welcomes students from colleges and universities in Kentucky and neighboring states. Admission is free with a college ID. Full-time students can register in the College Zone in the North Terrace to win one of ten $1,000 scholarships, and prizes from local vendors after each of the day’s races. The first 2,000 students to register will receive a free T-shirt courtesy of Kennedy’s Wildcat Den or a Vineyard Vines baseball hat. In the College Zone, students can enjoy music; free snacks from Qdoba, Raising Cane’s and Drake’s; photos by TOPS in Lex; and games and prizes from Orange Leaf. Students also can register for the Drake’s Handicapping Challenge; one student will win the opportunity to place a $500 bet on the day’s feature race, the $100,000 Transylvania (G3).
The Hill. Keeneland’s official tailgate lot, which is adjacent to the Keene Barn, features food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, race-day programs, a Keeneland Gift Shop kiosk and free shuttles to the track. BETologists, Keeneland’s wagering experts, will be available to answer fans’ questions.
The Keeneland Gift Shop Presents Vineyard Vines trunk show from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. ET.
Friday Pick 4 Presented by TVG. A $200,000-guaranteed pool will be offered on Races 6-9.
Saturday, April 5
Bluegrass Double. Keeneland encourages fans to wear blue to the track to show their support for the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team, which has advanced to the Final Four. Post time for the first of 10 races at Keeneland is 1:05 p.m. ET. The featured ninth race is the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) with a post time of 5:13 p.m. Post time for the 10th and final race is 5:44 p.m. UK’s game vs. Wisconsin is scheduled to start at approximately 8:50 p.m.
Sunrise Trackside sponsored by LEX18, the Lexington Herald-Leader and Dunkin’ Donuts offers activities for all ages beginning at 7 a.m. Fans can enjoy Breakfast With the Works, a Southern-style breakfast and trackside commentary during the morning workouts with a show and tell with farrier James Guthrie (until 8:30 a.m.); children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7-9 a.m.); a demonstration in the Paddock by Central Kentucky Riding for Hope (9 a.m.); guided walking tours of Keeneland (8-10 a.m.); a trackside handicapping seminar (11:30 a.m.); and a Q&A session with jockey Joel Rosario in the Paddock (12:05 p.m.). Keeneland Bugler Steve Buttleman will be on hand to take photos with fans.
The Hill. Keeneland’s official tailgate lot located adjacent to the Keene Barn, will feature food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, race-day programs, a Keeneland Gift Shop kiosk, free shuttles to the track and live bluegrass music. BETologists will be available to answer fans’ questions.
Craft Beer Tent. Available on the North Terrace patio, the special selection of craft beers includes Country Boy, Kentucky Ale Kolsch, Land Shark, Shock Top, Sierra Nevada and Sweetwater.
Sunday, April 6
Military Day at the Races, presented by Marathon. Keeneland will honor all active and inactive members of the military and their families with free general admission with a military ID at any pass gate. The North Terrace will be transformed into the Military Family Zone with free food, live music, children’s activities and more. Keeneland will welcome a special guest, U.S. Army Sgt. Dallas Robinson, for a meet and greet with fans. Robinson, a Kentuckian, was a member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team that competed in Sochi, Russia.