UK-BRED CASIGUAPO JOINS LIST OF TOYOTA BLUE GRASS PROBABLES
All American Horses’ Casiguapo, who was bred by the University of Kentucky, has joined the list of probables for the 90th running of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G1) on Saturday, April 12.
Trained by Mario Morales, Casiguapo was the runner-up in the Hopeful (G1) and Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) in 2013 and finished fifth in his lone 2014 start. The colt by Sightseeing is scheduled to arrive at Keeneland on Thursday from his home base at Calder.
The Toyota Blue Grass is limited to 14 starters with preference given to graded stakes winners and then highest earnings.
In earnings order, horses considered as probable for the race by the Racing Office are Bobby’s Kitten, Casiguapo, Asserting Bear, Dance With Fate, Vinceremos, Harry’s Holiday, Extrasexyhippzster, Coastline, Mr Speaker, Gala Award, Big Bazinga, Scotland (possible), Pablo Del Monte, Danza, Coltimus Prime, Quotient (possible), Divine Oath and Chief Barker (IRE) (possible).
Entries will be taken Wednesday, April 9.
KEENELAND SUCCESS RUNS IN THE FAMILY FOR WOODFIELD SPRINGS
By all rights, G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Woodfield Springs should be right at home Friday when he goes postward in the 26th running of the $100,000 Transylvania (G3) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
Woodfield Springs is the first foal of Communique, winner of the 2008 Bewitch (G3) and runner-up in the 2009 Bewitch.
“She was one of my most favorite horses in my barn,” trainer Rusty Arnold said of Communique, who compiled a record of 23-4-5-3 for earnings of $594,841. “She didn’t win a lot races, but she did beat a lot of fine fillies. She ran second in the Beverly D. (G1); got beat by a (Christophe) Clement horse (Mauralakana).”
Arnold trains Woodfield Springs, who broke his maiden in his most recent start under Julien Leparoux, who will be aboard Friday.
“I have really, really liked him all along,” Arnold said. “They are both about the same size; not real big but not small, and they both have great minds. He was getting ready to run last fall here or Churchill but had a shin problem and that delayed his debut until late December.”
Woodfield Springs finished third in his debut on grass and was fourth on the dirt before breaking his maiden on grass.
“His first race was good and his dirt race was OK and I may try him on dirt again,” Arnold said. “I was training him for the (Toyota) Blue Grass, but he is 18th in earnings of horses considering the race so he probably would not get in and so we’ll go Friday.”
Rain is in the forecast for the next two days and Arnold would not be overly wrought should the race be moved from the turf to the all-weather main track.
“Communique had a first and second in her two starts on the Polytrack here,” Arnold said. “And the only time his sire Raven’s Pass ran on the all-weather, all he did was win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).”
In addition to Woodfield Springs, Arnold hopes to make waves this meet with Centre Court in the $300,000 Jenny Wiley (G1) on April 12 and Zinzay in the $100,000 Appalachian (G3) Presented by Japan Racing Association on April 17.
Centre Court will attempt to join Intercontinental (GB) (2004-2005) in winning the Jenny Wiley in consecutive years. She won her 2014 debut in the Honey Fox (G2) in March off a long layoff.
Arnold never lost hope that Centre Court would return to the form that had carried her to five graded stakes victories prior to 2014.
“It didn’t get to that point,” Arnold said. “After Saratoga, we figured we could find out what the issue was and correct it if it was not major. We sent her to Dr. (Larry) Bramlage and he found a pulled muscle in behind.
“We gave her four months off and she came back as a new horse. The plan was to run in the Honey Fox and Jenny Wiley like last year and if she ran well, run her all year. If not, Plan B was to breed her but hopefully we can be on Plan A all year.”
Zinzay finished second as the favorite in the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3) here last fall in her second start and then ran second to Central Bank Ashland (G1) entrant Resistivity in her 2014 debut on March 15 at Gulfstream.
“She has come back good,” Arnold said. “Her first race back was good. She didn’t win, but it was a good race and she got a little tired. She is on track for the Appalachian.”
COOK MAKING KEENELAND DEBUT WITH KODY WITH A K
Friday is opening day of the 2014 Spring Meet and will mark the Keeneland debut for trainer Chad Cook when he sends out Kody With a K in the $100,000 Transylvania (G3). Cook, who has five horses here all for owners Michelle and Mark Brown, laughed when asked if he is nervous about the coming activity.
“Oh, no. Not at all,” he said, quickly adding: “I’m lying.”
The Transylvania will be the ninth race for Kody With a K, who made the first four starts of his career on turf and most recently raced on dirt at Delta Downs. In February at Delta, after undergoing surgery for an entrapped epiglottis, he broke his maiden by 12¼ lengths going 6½ furlongs and won a
7½-furlong allowance race by 4 lengths. Returning Kody With a K to turf seemed a reasonable next step.
“He’s grass-bred, by Stormy Atlantic,” Cook said. “What the heck? Here we are. We’re going to give him a shot to see if we’re good enough.”
The Browns are retired farmers from Robinson, Ill., who Cook said decided to buy a few racehorses after they sold their operation. Cook, 39, is from nearby Martinsville, Ill., most famously the home of the late Dale Baird, the all-time leading trainer by wins. Baird’s brother Dean and Dean’s son Ron are working with Cook at Keeneland.
Cook, 39, grew up with horses and began working with Thoroughbreds at the county fairgrounds in Martinsville. He became an exercise rider and soon turned to training, sending out his first starter in 2002. Among the horses he trains for the Browns are Roman Unbridled, winner of the Big Drama Stakes at Delta in January. Roman Unbridled was fourth in the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) last November and most recently was fourth in the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds.
Kody With a K will be ridden in the Transylvania by Chris Rosier, who has been aboard the colt for the past four consecutive races. They will break from post five in the 12-horse race.
“Here’s our ideal situation; we’ve talked about this a lot,” Cook said about how he hopes the Transylvania will unfold. “We’re hoping we just get out there, make a nice easy lead and he can just relax. He’s got the talent, got the speed. He can go the distance.”
KEENELAND TOPS HANA RANKINGS FOR SIXTH YEAR IN A ROW
For the sixth consecutive year, Keeneland topped the 2014 race track ratings produced by the Horseplayers Association of North America.
The HANA Racetrack Ratings are based on an algorithm using factors indicative of horseplayer betting value, gleaned from both empirical and academic study. Key factors including takeout rate, field size, wager variety, pool size, and signal distribution are analyzed track by track and weighted to produce a final composite score. Each of the 64 tracks is listed in rank order.
“With no takeout rate on any bet higher than 19%, a large field size of 9.61 horses per race – which was up from the previous year – and a race office who focuses on carding competitive cards, Keeneland could not be unseated,” HANA President Jeff Platt said.
“For HANA to acknowledge Keeneland as the nation’s No. 1 track for a sixth consecutive year is a great honor and tremendously gratifying for our team,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We continually look for inventive ways, like our popular BETologists, to make wagering more fan friendly for our casual fans, while at the same time offer exciting opportunities for our seasoned handicappers. We owe a thanks to our horsemen too, who elevate our racing product with full fields of top-quality horses.”
For more information, visit horseplayersassociation.org.
THURSDAY IS APRIL SALE PREVIEW DAY
On Thursday, April 3, potential buyers will have the opportunity to watch horses cataloged for Keeneland’s 22nd April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale during Preview Day.
Preview Day begins at 10:30 a.m. ET. Works will be streamed live at Keeneland.com. Within hours of their conclusion, works will be posted on Keeneland.com and be available for viewing through the April 7 sale.
Work replays also will be available in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion TV viewing room beginning 8 a.m. on Friday, April 4, through the sale.
Keeneland has cataloged 125 two-year-olds for its 22nd annual April Sale, which begins at 4 p.m. ET on Monday, April 7. First held in 1993, the April Sale has produced more classic winners than any other 2-year-old sale, the most recent being 2013 Belmont (G1) winner Palace Malice.
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.