VETERANS SET TO CONTEST CLOSING-DAY ELKHORN
William S. Farish Jr.’s Grade 1 winner Pool Play will face 10 rivals in the 28th running of the $150,000 Elkhorn Stakes (G2), a 1½-mile race on the turf for four-year-olds and up on Friday, closing day of Keeneland’s 16-day spring meet. Trained by Mark Casse, the eight-year-old horse by Silver Deputy was second in the 2011 Elkhorn, won by Musketier (GER), and in his next race won the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) on dirt at Churchill Downs in his final race of the year.
Pool Play, who was eighth in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), opened 2013 at Gulfstream Park, where he ran second to Csaba in the one-mile Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) and sixth behind Graydar in the 1 1/8-mile Donn Handicap (G1).
Miguel Mena will ride Pool Play, who will break from post nine in the Elkhorn.
Another major winner in the race is Soribel Stable’s Al Qasr, a Group 1 winner at the Elkhorn distance and on the turf in Argentina in May 2012. Horse of the Year in Peru, where he won one Group 2 and three Group 3 races, the five-year-old son of Aptitude did not race again until March 30, when he was sixth behind Cigar Street in the Skip Away Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream. Edgar Prado will ride Al Qasr, who drew post six in the Elkhorn.
Their rivals include Phipps Stable’s Reflecting, who won a 1½-mile allowance race on the turf at Keeneland on April 11. The Elkhorn marks the stakes debut for Reflecting, a four-year-old Elusive Quality colt who is trained by Shug McGaughey. McGaughey’s three wins in the race include last year’s renewal with Point of Entry.
The Elkhorn will go as the ninth race on Friday’s 10-race program with a 5:13 p.m. (ET) post time.
The field for the race, from the rail out, is as follows: Sky Blazer (Rosie Napravnik, 118 pounds), Al Qasr (Prado, 118), Side Road (Gary Stevens, 118), Helicopter (Arienne Cox, 123), Reflecting (Robby Albarado, 118), Dark Cove (Joel Rosario, 118), Macho Bull (Brian Hernandez Jr., 118),Ioya Bigtime (Jeffrey Sanchez, 118), Pool Play (Mena, 118), Forte Dei Marmi (GB) (Julien Leparoux, 118) and Al Khali (Garrett Gomez, 118).
PRINCE WILL I AM RETURNS TO KEENELAND AS A PONY
Regalo Mia, who will bid for her third consecutive stakes victory in Thursday’s 1½-mile Bewitch Stakes (G3) on the Keeneland turf course, is the 120-pound highweight in the race and is a star for trainer Michelle Nihei. But she’s not the most accomplished runner in Nihei’s string here. That honor belongs to Grade 1 winner Prince Will I Am, who has been Nihei’s pony horse since the spring meet opened.
“He’s a pretty cool guy. He’s one of the nicest horses, movement-wise, that I’ve ever ridden,” Nihei said about Prince Will I Am, a six-year-old ridgling by Victory Gallop whom she first rode when he was two.
Racing for Casa Farms I LLC, Prince Will I Am won five of 19 races and earned $429,084 from 2009-2012. He won the 2010 Jamaica Handicap (G1) to give Nihei her first Grade 1 win and captured the 2010 W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) and 2011 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2). The chestnut made one Keeneland start, running fifth in the 2009 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G2).
Prince Will I Am had a few physical issues during his career that eventually led to his retirement. His final race was last November at Calder, where he finished fifth in the W.L. McKnight.
Nihei said Prince Will I Am was bored when he was turned out at the owner’s farm but is thriving at the racetrack - “he’s always enjoyed having a job” - and seems to be a mentor to the younger horses in Nihei’s 10-horse stable.
“He likes to go to the track,” Nihei said. “He doesn’t care if I take five sets to the starting gate.”
Nihei trains Regalo Mia, a four-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Sligo Bay (IRE), for owner Steven W. Ciccarone of Baltimore. The filly has won two races at Gulfstream Park this year, taking the January 19 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Stakes and the March 30 Orchid Stakes (G3), the latter at the same conditions as the Bewitch.
“She’s doing so well,” Nihei said. “I don’t like to run anybody back too quickly and sometimes she seems to be more of a six- to seven-week horse, but she has never come out of a race better so it’s hard to turn this one down.”
Last year, Regalo Mia was ninth in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs behind Centre Court, who won the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) here on April 13. Regalo Mia had a second in the Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream and a third in the Appalachian Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. Those races were won by Dayatthespa, who won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (G1) here in October.
“We’ve never made it easy for her,” Nihei said about Regalo Mia, who will be ridden in the Bewitch by Luis Conteras and break from post position nine in the field of 12.. Contreras was aboard her in the Orchid.
MAKER EQUALS SPRING WIN MARK ON SUNDAY
On Sunday, trainer Mike Maker won one race to score his meet-leading 16th victory and equal the spring season trainer’s record set by Todd Pletcher in 2005. D. Wayne Lukas, for whom Maker and Pletcher both served as assistants, set the overall track record when he won 22 races in the fall of 1989.
Thirteen of Maker’s wins have been for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who have won a record 17 races as owners.
Leading jockey Joel Rosario, who has 26 wins, has been aboard 15 of the Ramseys’ winners. Randy Romero set the spring record of 32 wins in 1990. In the fall of 1991, Pat Day set the overall record when he rode 45 winners.
Of the 18 horses the Ramseys have entered on the final three days of the meet, 15 are trained by Maker and 13 will be ridden by Rosario. One of them is Dark Cove, who was entered Tuesday for Friday’s Elkhorn Stakes (G3). If Dark Cove wins, the Ramseys will earn their eighth graded stakes victory at Keeneland and receive a gold tray from the track in recognition of the milestone achievement.
Ricardo Santana Jr. scored his first Keeneland win when he rode Tattaglia to victory in the second race on Sunday. Owned by the Ackerly Brothers Farm and trained by Steve Asmussen, the three-year-old Rockport Harbor colt won the six-furlong maiden claiming race by a head in 1:37. The win came in Santana’s second race at Keeneland. …
Magdalena Racing’s Grade 1 winner Pure Fun, seventh in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G3) on Saturday under Rosie Napravnik, was scheduled to leave Keeneland around 12:30 p.m. today for Churchill Downs and her next start in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 3. Trainer Ken McPeek tweeted that Julien Leparoux will ride the daughter of Pure Prize in the Oaks.
CLOSING WEEK SPECIAL EVENTS
Wednesday, April 24
Keeneland Handicapping Contest presented by Daily Racing Form. Register at Wagering Central. Entry fee is $10; 100% of fees are returned in prizes, with the top 10 handicappers qualifying to Keeneland’s Tournament of Champions in November. Winners of the Tournament of Champions receive an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas to compete in the 2014 Coast Casinos Horseplayer World Series.
United Way Day. Keeneland will donate a portion of the day’s gate receipts to the United Way of the Bluegrass.
Thursday, April 25
TVG Hat Giveaway. The first 1,000 patrons with paid admissions through the gates will receive a voucher for a free TVG hat.
Friday, April 26
Concert on the Lawn. Join us on the Clubhouse Lawn immediately following the day’s races for a free concert by Changes In Latitudes, a premier Jimmy Buffett tribute band, hosted by the Markey Cancer Foundation Legacy Council.
KEENELAND 2013 SPRING MEET LEADERS
(Stats Through Sunday, April 21)
Current Meet Leading Jockeys
Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Purses
Joel Rosario 83 26 12 8 $984,004
Julien Leparoux 77 15 12 10 $1,480,433
Rosie Napravnik 64 9 13 11 $545,100
Alan Garcia 38 9 3 2 $442,704
Edgar Prado 28 7 3 3 $362,300
Javier Castellano 26 6 3 3 $344,056
Shaun Bridgmohan 52 5 6 8 $282,004
Jesus Castanon 32 4 4 3 $144,998
Corey Lanerie 68 3 12 12 $277,641
Robby Albarado 29 3 4 2 $141,056
Joseph Rocco Jr. 37 3 3 3 $200,427
Roberto Morales 27 3 2 1 $ 77,438
Gary Stevens 23 3 1 2 $124,733
Current Meet Leading Trainers
Name Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Purses
Michael Maker 59 16 9 4 $483,275
Wesley Ward 34 8 6 3 $287,023
H. Graham Motion 25 6 4 3 $398,086
Ken McPeek 34 6 4 2 $679,080
Mark Casse 30 5 2 1 $209,807
Shug McGaughey 14 4 3 2 $275,454
Todd Pletcher 9 4 1 2 $484,948
Jonathan Sheppard 10 4 1 0 $141,416
Wayne Catalano 20 3 2 5 $122,642
George Arnold II 20 3 1 2 $313,592
Eddie Kenneally 10 3 1 1 $ 97,445
Charlie LoPresti 13 3 1 0 $330,241
Current Meet Leading Owners
Ken and Sarah Ramsey 17
Augustin Stable (George Strawbridge Jr.) 6
Gary Barber* 3
Phipps Stable (O.M. Phipps, et al) 3
Team Valor International (Barry Irwin) 3
Alto Racing (Gil Moutray) 2
Mort Fink 2
G. Watts Humphrey Jr. 2
Ice Wine Stable (David Reid) 2
Magdalena Racing (Susan McPeek, et al) 2