OPENING-DAY TRANSYLVANIA ATTRACTS FIELD OF 11
John Oxley’s Star Contender, winner of the Cup and Saucer Stakes on turf at Woodbine last October, will carry top weight of 123 pounds against 10 rivals entered Tuesday for Friday’s 25th running of the $100,000 Transylvania (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
The Transylvania will highlight the card on the opening day of the 16-day spring meet and serves as the first of 16 stakes, 15 of them graded, for the meet that runs through April 26. The Transylvania will go as the ninth race on Friday’s 10-race program with a 5:13 p.m. (ET) post time. First post time daily throughout the meet is 1:05 p.m.
Trained by Mark Casse, Star Contender has not raced since finishing sixth in the Gulfstream Park Derby on January 1 in his lone start on dirt. Patrick Husbands, who has been aboard Star Contender in four of his five starts, has the call Friday and will break from post position nine.
Transylvania favoritism could go to Sam-Son Farm’s Up With the Birds, a winner of his past three starts who capped off 2012 with a victory in the Coronation Futurity at Woodbine over Star Contender. Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode Up With the Birds to victory in the Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds on March 2, has the mount Friday and will break from post position three.
The field for the Transylvania, from the inside out, is as follows: Amen Kitten (Alex Solis, 118 pounds), Brown Almighty (Rosie Napravnik, 118), Up With the Birds (Bridgmohan, 118), Bambazonki (Jose Lezcano, 118), Pyrite Mountain (Julien Leparoux, 118), Jack Milton (John Velazquez, 118), Fire Guard (Joel Rosario, 118), Redwood Kitten (Elvis Trujillo, 118), Star Contender (Husbands, 123), Bethel (Antonio Castanon, 118) and Holiday Star (Joe Rocco Jr., 118).
McGAUGHEY HAS HIGH KEENELAND HOPES AND DERBY DREAMS
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey ranks fourth all time with 23 stakes victories at Keeneland. The 62-year-old Lexington native hopes to add to that total at the 16-day meet that begins Friday and build some momentum toward the first Saturday in May some 75 miles west of here with Orb in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1).
“I will be here the whole meet except for a couple of days when I go to New York,” said McGaughey, whose Keeneland string arrived from Florida on Monday.
The first order of business for McGaughey will be sending out defending champion Data Link in the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) on Friday, April 12. In that race he most likely will face 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
“I think you might see a different dimension to him than the last time he faced Wise Dan,” McGaughey said, referring to Data Link’s fifth-place finish to Wise Dan in last fall’s Shadwell Turf Mile (G1). “He was way too far back the last time he faced Wise Dan and now he can lay closer. The Canadian Turf (Stakes [G3], which he won on February 23) was a good race and he has been training really well. I am pleased with him.”
McGaughey also has Abaco for the April 13 Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) and five-time graded stakes winner Boisterous as a possible starter in the April 26 Elkhorn Stakes (G2).
Last year’s Elkhorn winner, Point of Entry, who defeated Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Animal Kingdom in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1), is at Keeneland and being pointed to the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 4. Also at Keeneland is Hungry Island, the third-place finisher in last fall’s First Lady Stakes (G1) here.
Orb, winner of last Saturday’s Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) and the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) in February, will remain at Payson Park in South Florida a bit longer, according to McGaughey.
“It is quieter down there,” said McGaughey, who has had six starters in the Kentucky Derby, none since Saarland in 2002.
“After I left Payson around noon on Sunday, I got a little excited, but five weeks to the Derby is a long way off,” said McGaughey, whose best Derby finish came in 1989 with Easy Goer. “When you get over there, you have to enjoy the moment and don’t let it mess your mind up.”
GRADE 1 STAKES FIELDS TAKING SHAPE FOR TOYOTA BLUE GRASS WEEKEND
Marquee names, headed by 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan, dot the roster of probable stars scheduled to compete in three Grade 1 stakes surrounding Keeneland’s spring meet centerpiece, the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) to be run Saturday, April 13.
Kicking off the weekend on Friday, April 12 will be the 25th running of the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile that is expected to attract Wise Dan, winner of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) in his most recent start, and defending race champion Data Link. According to Keeneland stakes coordinator Scott Jones, among other probables for the race, for which entries will be taken next Tuesday, are the 1-2 finishers from last month’s Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita: Suggestive Boy (ARG) and Silentio.
The first of three Grade 1s on Toyota Blue Grass Day is the 12th running of the $300,000 Madison Stakes for fillies and mares going seven furlongs on the main track. Probables include Great Hot (BRZ), winner of the 2011 Lexus Raven Run Stakes (G2) here, Byrama (GB) and Rumor.
Defending champion Daisy Devine heads the probables list for the 25th running of the $300,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Other likely starters include Abaco, Better Lucky, Centre Court, Quiet Oasis (IRE) and Samitar (GB).
Nine fillies are on the probable list for the 28th running of the $150,000 Beaumont Presented by Keeneland Select Stakes (G2) to be contested over the Beard Course of seven furlongs, 184 feet. The Beaumont offers fillies a final chance to accumulate points for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 3 at Churchill Downs.
The Beaumont winner will earn 20 points. Those under consideration for the race are Ciao Bella Luna, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Finding More (Kellyn Gorder), Girl of The Rain (IRE) (Graham Motion), Irish Presense (Eoin Harty), Judy In Disguise (GB) (Simon Callaghan), Lady Banks (James Lawrence), My Special J’s (Gorder), Premier Steps (IRE) (Chad Brown) and Renee’s Titan (Doug O’Neill).
Morton Fink’s Successful Dan, unraced since finishing second to eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Fort Larned in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3) on June 30, continued preparation for a return to the races with a half-mile in :48.60 on the main track Tuesday morning. Keeneland clockers recorded fractions of :13, :24.60 and galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.20 and six furlongs in 1:14.60.
Trained by Charles LoPresti, Successful Dan is undefeated in four starts at Keeneland with his major victory coming in the 2010 Greenbrier Fayette Stakes (G2). The seven-year-old half-brother to 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan is a three-time graded stakes winner with his most recent victory coming in the Alysheba Stakes (G2) in track-record time last May at Churchill Downs. …
Working on the turf for a likely engagement in the Shakertown Stakes(G3) on April 13 was Black Sheep Racing’s China, who covered five furlongs around the dogs in 1:03.40. Trained by John Good, China worked in company with Ptolemaic (GB).