Barn Notes -- Monday, March 31

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Full Gate of 14 Looking Possible for Toyota Blue Grass

A full gate of 14 runners is looking like a strong possibility for the 90th running of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G1) on April 12, the centerpiece of the 15-day Keeneland Spring Meet that opens Friday.

According to Racing Secretary Ben Huffman and Stakes Coordinator Scott Jones, 13 horses are considered as probable and another three are possible for the 1 1/8-mile test that offers 170 points toward the 140th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) with 100 points going to the winner and a guaranteed spot in the starting gate.

The Toyota Blue Grass is limited to 14 starters. If more than 14 are entered April 9, preference will be given to graded stakes winners and then highest earnings. Only three runnings of the Toyota Blue Grass have attracted 14-horse fields: 1954, 1974 and 2013.

Heading the list of probables is Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Bobby’s Kitten. Trained by Chad Brown, Bobby’s Kitten won the Pilgrim (G3) last fall at Belmont and finished third as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Santa Anita. Bobby’s Kitten won his 2014 debut at Tampa Bay Downs on March 9.

Also on the probable list are the 1-2 finishers from the Palm Beach (G3) at Gulfstream, Gala Award and Mr Speaker, and the 2-3-4-5 finishers from the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral (G3), Harry’s Holiday, Coastline, Asserting Bear and Big Bazinga.

Expected to venture to Keeneland from California is Dance With Fate, runner-up in the El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate in his most recent start. Trained by Peter Eurton, Dance With Fate finished second in the FrontRunner (G1) and Del Mar Futurity (G1) as a 2-year-old.

Other probables for the race, which Java’s War won in 2013, are Divine Oath, Extrasexyhippzster, Pablo Del Monte, Vinceremos and Woodfield Springs.

Possible entrants include Cleburne, Danza and Ring Weekend.

 

Opening Weekend Stakes Taking Shape

Three-year-olds will be in the spotlight this weekend when Keeneland opens its 15-day Spring Meet that features 15 graded stakes, five of them Grade 1 events.

The first of the Grade 1s is the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Entries will be taken Wednesday for the race. As of Monday 10 fillies were considered as probable for the race, according to Stakes Coordinator Scott Jones.

Topping the list of probables are Testa Rossi (FR) and Rosalind.

Trained by Chad Brown, Testa Rossi won the Miss Grillo (G3) and ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to complete 2013. In her 2014 debut, she won the Florida Oaks (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.

Rosalind, trained by Ken McPeek, finished second in the Darley Alcibiades (G1) here and was a narrowly beaten third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita. McPeek won the 2002 Ashland with Take Charge Lady.

Other probable include Candy Kitty, Interrupted, Naïve Enough, On the Backstreets, Resistivity, Room Service, Seeking Her Glory and Thank You Marylou.

Possible entrants include Macaroon and Saturday Bliss.

The 26th running of the $100,000 Transylvania (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf on Friday figures to attract at least seven runners when entries are taken Tuesday.

Topping the probables for the race are three-time stakes winner Storming Inti and Generous (G3) winner Global View.

Also considered likely for the race are Hesinfront, Kody With a K, Laddie Boy, Picozza and Pleuven (FR) with Ry’s the Man considered as possible.

The remainder of the Grade 1 races, highlighted by the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, will be run during the second week of the meet.

The $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile is scheduled for Friday, April 11 and may mark the 2014 debut of two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan. Also pointing to the race are Lochte, Reload and Za Approval.

Other Grade 1s offered on the Toyota Blue Grass program on Saturday, April 12, are the $300,000 Jenny Wiley for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the turf and the $300,000 Madison for fillies and mares going seven furlongs on the main track.

Probables for the Jenny Wiley include 2013 winner Centre Court, Abaco, Cloud Scapes, Egg Drop, Kitten’s Point, Stephanie’s Kitten and Tapicat.

Probables for the Madison include Apropos, Ciao Bella Luna, Cozze Up Lady, Discreet Marq, Heir Kitty, Judy the Beauty and Wildcat Lily.

 

Keeneland Welcomes Big Blue Nation Saturday

What could make for a better first Saturday in April than going to Keeneland for world-class Thoroughbred racing in the afternoon and watching the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team in the Final Four that evening? That spectacular double-header is on tap for Saturday, April 5, and Keeneland is encouraging fans to wear blue to the track to show their support for the Wildcats.

UK’s game vs. Wisconsin is scheduled to start at approximately 8:50 p.m., giving UK fans plenty of time to enjoy Keeneland that afternoon. Post time for the first of 10 races on the card is 1:05 p.m. ET. The featured ninth race 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.

 

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 & Entertainment Center, 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.

Friday Pick 4 Presented by TVG. A $200,000-guaranteed pool will be offered on Races 6-9.

 

Saturday, April 5

Sunrise Trackside sponsored by LEX18, the Lexington Herald-Leader and Dunkin’ Donuts offers activities for all ages beginning at 7 a.m. (ET).  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 a Keeneland jockey 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 & Entertainment Center, 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.

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