2012 HORSE OF THE YEAR WISE DAN READY FOR 2013 DEBUT
Morton Fink’s homebred Wise Dan, who capped off a Horse of the Year campaign in 2012 with a track-record performance in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, completed his major work for his 2013 debut with a five-furlong work in 1:00 early Thursday morning at Keeneland.
With regular exercise rider Damien Rock aboard, Wise Dan clicked off fractions of :12.20, :24.40, :36.20 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 and seven furlongs in 1:27 over the main track.
The initial target for Wise Dan in 2013 is the 25th running of the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) on Friday, April 12.
“He worked well last week (1:12.40) and this work was about the same,” trainer Charles LoPresti said. “He galloped out strong and he was out in the middle of the track. I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be good to go next week.”
Before Wise Dan returns to the races, LoPresti has another stable star ready to come off the shelf on Saturday in Grade 1 winner Turallure, owned by Four D Stables.
Unraced because of cannon bone bruising following the Firecracker Handicap (G2) on July 1 at Churchill Downs, Turallure will face six foes in Saturday’s fourth race at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.
“It is a tough spot,” LoPresti said. “There are a lot of horses that have been running and some people yesterday were saying it could almost be a stakes race.”
Turallure will break from post position two under Julien Leparoux and be facing five graded stakes winners among his rivals that include the likes of Air Support, winner of the 2011 Transylvania (G3) here, Howe Great, Al Khali, Middie and Forte Dei Marmi (GB).
EMOLLIENT MAKES QUICK TURNAROUND IN CENTRAL BANK ASHLAND
A week after running fifth behind Dreaming of Julia in the Gulfstream Oaks (G2), Emollient returns in Saturday’s Central Bank Ashland (G1) for breeder and owner Juddmonte Farms and Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
“The boss doesn’t do that very often: a week off and coming back in a Grade 1,” said Rodolphe Brisset, Mott’s Keeneland assistant who was in Dubai last Saturday with multiple champion Royal Delta. “It can be a little tough, but she’s given us every sign she can handle it.”
Brisset said the Mott team “always liked (Emollient) a lot” and he has ridden the Empire Maker filly in the mornings since she was in Saratoga last summer. She opened her career running second in a maiden race there and next won at Belmont Park and finished second in the Demoiselle (G2) at Aqueduct. In February, Emollient won her 2013 debut, an allowance race at Gulfstream.
Emollient, who drew post 13 in the field of 14 for the Central Bank Ashland, will be ridden for the first time by Racing Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
“We didn’t have the best draw,” Brisset said. “The outside can be a little tough. She’s not very difficult to ride. She can come out of the gate and get into position. Mike knows what he’s doing.”
DEFENDING JENNY WILEY CHAMPION DAISY DEVINE WORKS ON GRASS
James Miller’s Daisy Devine, who has compiled a 9-7-1-0 record on grass that includes a victory in last spring’s Jenny Wiley Stakes G1) here, worked toward a repeat of that victory with a five-furlong work in 1:02.60 around the dogs over a Keeneland turf course labeled firm Thursday morning with jockey James Graham aboard.
According to Keeneland clockers, Daisy Devine covered the first three furlongs in :39.60 with a 23-second final quarter-mile while working on her own.
“She has been here about three weeks,” trainer Andrew McKeever said. “I’ve got no complaints with her and very happy with where she is.”
Second in the Bayou Handicap at Fair Grounds on February 23 in her most recent start, Daisy Devine worked five furlongs on the turf in 1:00.20 here last Thursday in her first local drill for the Jenny Wiley that is to be run April 13.
Is she as good as she was coming into the Jenny Wiley as she was last year?
“I guess we will find out next week,” McKeever said with a chuckle.
Julien Leparoux, winner of the past five Keeneland riding titles, was making the rounds Thursday morning after returning to Lexington from his new base in Southern California. Leparoux has four mounts on Friday’s opening-day card, including Pyrite Mountain in the Transylvania (G3), a race Leparoux has won twice. Leparoux has won nine titles overall at Keeneland, eight of them outright.
KEENELAND TOPS HANA RANKINGS FOR FIFTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR
The Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) has named Keeneland as the No. 1 racetrack in North America for 2013. Keeneland has earned the award for five consecutive years.
“The rating algorithm indicates betting value, and at Keeneland this is exemplified perfectly,” HANA President Jeff Platt said. “With no takeout rate on any bet higher than 19%, a large field size of 9.45 horses per race and a race office cognizant of carding interesting, betable races for customers, Keeneland came out on top once again.”
“It’s an honor for Keeneland to be recognized by HANA for the fifth consecutive year as the nation’s No. 1 track for horseplayers,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We are fortunate to have large, quality fields, and we strive to offer a wide variety of wagering options and a reasonable takeout rate. We remain committed to showcasing horse racing in a way that appeals to all horseplayers and appreciate HANA’s recognition of those efforts.”
Keeneland was followed in the rankings by Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs.
The HANA Racetrack Ratings are based on an algorithm designed by HANA Board member Bill Weaver, a retired engineer. Using studies and empirical data that are directly correlated to horseplayer value and handle growth, key factors, including takeout rate, field size, wager variety, pool size and signal distribution, are weighted. A composite score is then tabulated and the 67 racetracks are ranked.
Full ratings and data can be found at HANA’s website, www.horseplayersassociation.org.
SPRING MEET SPECIAL EVENTS
Friday, April 5
College Scholarship Day attracts thousands of students from colleges and universities in Kentucky and in neighboring states. Admission is free for full-time students, who can register in the College Zone in the North Terrace to win a $1,000 scholarship awarded after each of the day’s 10 races. The first 2,000 students to register will receive a free T-shirt courtesy of Kennedy Book Store in Lexington or a hat courtesy of Vineyard Vines. In the College Zone, students can enjoy music; free snacks by Qdoba, Raising Cane’s and Coke; photos by LexScene; and prize drawings after each race. The new Harry’s Handicapping Zone will offer tip sheets and a chance to win prizes. One student will win the opportunity to place a $500 bet on the feature race, the Transylvania Stakes (G3).
The Keeneland Gift Shop Presents a trunk show with Vineyard Vines from 11 a.m.–6 p.m., featuring a new Derby collection and an exclusive Keeneland collection.
Friday Pick 4 Presented by TVG. A $200,000-guaranteed pool will be offered on races 7-10.
Friday Happy Hour. Fans are encouraged to stick around after the final race to enjoy live music and simulcast wagering at Happy Hour in the Mezzanine Bar.
Friday, April 5/Saturday, April 6
The Keeneland Gift Shop Presents a designer hat trunk show from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. with couture milliner Jenny Pfanenstiel of Forme’ Millinery.
Saturday, April 6
Sunrise Trackside offers activities for the entire family beginning at 7 a.m. with Breakfast With the Works, featuring a Southern-style breakfast and trackside commentary on Thoroughbreds as they train (until 8:30 a.m.); children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7-9 a.m.); a demonstration in the paddock with Central Kentucky Riding for Hope (8:45 a.m.); walking tours of Keeneland (8:30-10:30 a.m.); photos with legendary bugler George “Bucky” Sallee in the paddock (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.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.).
Tailgating on “The Hill.” Watch and wager on Keeneland’s live racing from the tailgate lot. Located adjacent to the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center, The Hill will feature a variety of food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, and race-day programs and general admission tickets available for purchase. A concert series, held in conjunction with Best of Bluegrass, will feature The Bluegrass Collective (April 6), Laurel River Line (April 13) and Town Mountain (April 20).