Keeneland’s 86th running of the $600,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) on Friday, April 7, opening day of the 15-day Spring Meet, has attracted 88 nominees to the race for 3-year-old fillies led by D. J. Stable’s champion Wonder Wheel, winner of last fall’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) and NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) here, and Godolphin’s Pretty Mischievous, who captured the Rachel Alexandra (G2) last Saturday at Fair Grounds. Recent winners of the Central Bank Ashland who were named champions are Nest (2022), Malathaat (2021) and Monomoy Girl (2018).
Click here for a list of Central Bank Ashland nominees; click here for their past performances.
The division’s first Grade 1 race of 2023, the 1 1/16-mile Central Bank Ashland will be run on opening day of the Spring Meet for the second consecutive year. The stakes, the ninth race with a 5:16 p.m. ET post time, highlights the 10-race opening-day card that begins at 1 p.m. Other stakes that day are the 35th running of the $400,000 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the turf and the 75th running of the $400,000 Lafayette for 3-year-olds going 7 furlongs on the dirt.
Post positions for the Central Bank Ashland and the other opening-day races will be drawn Tuesday, April 4.
The Central Bank Ashland awards 100 points to the winner on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1). The next four finishers receive 40 points, 30 points, 20 points and 10 points, respectively, to the $1.25 million race on May 5 at Churchill Downs.
Wonder Wheel, trained by Mark Casse, won four races in five starts in 2022 with her lone defeat being a runner-up finish in the Spinaway (G1). The filly by Into Mischief, who was purchased at Keeneland’s 2021 September Yearling Sale, made her 2023 debut in the Suncoast (L) at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 11 and finished second by a neck to Team Equistaff and Winning Stables’ Dreaming of Snow, who also is nominated to the Central Bank Ashland.
Pretty Mischievous, trained by Brendan Walsh, scored a three-quarter length victory in the Rachel Alexandra in her 2023 debut. Also nominated to the Central Bank Ashland are the two fillies who were second and third in that race: WinStar Farm and Siena Farm’s Miracle and Gold Standard Racing Stable’s Hoosier Philly.
Other notable Central Bank Ashland nominees include Selective’s Chop Chop, runner-up by a nose to Wonder Wheel in the Darley Alcibiades; Stonestreet Stables’ Julia Shining, winner of the Demoiselle (G2) and a full sister to Malathaat; Wellspring Stables’ Leave No Trace, runner-up to Wonder Wheel in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; Ashbrook Farm and Upland Flats Racing’s undefeated Forward Gal (G3) winner Red Carpet Ready; Dawn and Ike Thrash’s The AlysLook, winner of the Silverbulletday (L); and Godolphin’s Wet Paint, winner of the Martha Washington (L).
Todd Pletcher, who saddled the past two Central Bank Ashland winners in Nest and Malathaat, and Chad Brown lead all trainers with 11 nominees each to this year’s race.
The late nomination deadline for the Central Bank Ashland is Wednesday, March 22.