(Gamine winning the BC Filly & Mare Sprint at Keeneland / Coady Photography)
From the Keeneland Media Team:
Champion Gamine and additional winners of 2020 Breeders’ Cup races at Keeneland –Aunt Pearl (IRE), Fire At Will and Golden Pal – are among marquee names nominated to stakes that are part of the April 2-3 opening two days of Keeneland’s 15-day 2021 Spring Meet. A total of nine stakes worth a combined $2.5 million will be run.
The April 3 program will feature two classic preps, the 97th running of the $800,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and 84th running of the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), which will award the respective winners 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve and Kentucky Oaks (G1). As previously announced, the Toyota Blue Grass attracted undefeated champion Essential Quality, winner of the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, among the 151 nominees.
The $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) drew 88 nominees, including previously announced champion Vequist, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), and Grade 1 winners Dayoutoftheoffice and Simply Ravishing.
Season begins with three stakes
Opening day of the Spring Meet will present a 10-race card that includes three stakes for 3-year-olds: the 36th running of the $150,000 Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select for fillies at the Beard Course distance of 7 furlongs and 184 feet; 33rdrunning of the $150,000 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on the turf; and the second running of the $100,000 Palisades Turf Sprint at 5½ furlongs on the turf.
Wagering that day will feature a $200,000-guaranteed Pick Four Presented by TVG.
The Beaumont, which offers 17 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the first- through fourth-place finishers, attracted 35 nominees headlined by trainer Tim Hamm and Siena Farm’s Dayoutoftheoffice. Winner of the Frizette (G1) last fall, Dayoutoftheoffice was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in her most recent start.
Among the other nominees are Phoenix Thoroughbred III’s Crazy Beautiful, who was second in last fall’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland for trainer Kenny McPeek, and trainer Todd Pletcher’s Grade 2-winning duo of Shadwell Stables’s Malathaat and Holly Hill Stables’ Wholebodemeister.
These four fillies also are nominated to the Central Bank Ashland.
Three Diamonds Farm’s Fire At Will, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) Presented by Coolmore America, tops a roster of 33 nominees to the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania. Trained by Mike Maker, Fire At Will has won two of three grass starts with the other victory coming in the Pilgrim (G2).
Other nominees to the race include LNJ Foxwoods and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ undefeated Annex, winner of the Palm Beach (L) for trainer Bill Mott, and Jim Bakke’s Columbia (L) winner Winfromwithin, who is trained by Todd Pletcher.
Ranlo Investments’ Golden Pal, easy winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2), is the most notable name among 21 nominees to the Palisades Turf Sprint. Trained by Wesley Ward, Golden Pal was second in his turf debut in the Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot and then took the Skidmore at Saratoga prior to his Breeders’ Cup victory.
Ward, who has seven horses nominated to the race, also trains Breeze Easy’s Outadore, who finished third behind Fire At Will in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Another nominee is Kristen Boice and Marylou Holden’s Bodenheimer. Trained by Valorie Lund, he won Keeneland’s Indian Summer (L) Presented by Keeneland Select during the Fall Meet.
Entries for opening day will be taken Monday, March 29.
Six graded stakes on April 3
The first Saturday of the Spring Meet presents an 11-race card highlighted by the Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland. Keeneland will offer a $500,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four and a $500,000-guaranteed All Stakes Pick Five that day.
Four other graded stakes join the two classic preps on the card, which is worth a total of $2.1 million: 20th running of the $300,000 Madison (G1) for fillies and mares at 7 furlongs on the dirt; 33rd running of the $200,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf; 25th running of the $200,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and 34th running of the $200,000 Commonwealth (G3) for older horses at 7 furlongs on the dirt.
Michael Lund Petersen’s Gamine headlines 23 nominees to the Madison. Trained by Bob Baffert, Gamine won the Acorn (G1) and Test (G1) before her track record-setting romp in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1).
Also nominated to the Madison are the 3-4 finishers from the same Breeders’ Cup race: Lothenbach Stables’ Bell’s the One, trained by Neil Pessin, and Lloyd Madison Farms IV’s Sconsin, trained by Greg Foley. Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Frank’s Rockette, a three-time graded stakes winner who finished 11th against males in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), also is nominated. She is trained by Bill Mott.
In the Appalachian Presented by Japan Racing Association, Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Peter Deutsch, Michael Kisber, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables’ Aunt Pearl (IRE) headlines the 39 nominees. Trained by Brad Cox, Aunt Pearl is perfect in three races, including the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Keeneland.
Among the other nominees are recent Grade 3 winners Domain Expertise, trained by Chad Brown and owned by Klaravich Stables, and Con Lima, trained by Todd Pletcher and owned in partnership by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Joseph Graffeo, Eric Nikolaus, Del Toro and Troy Johnson.
The past three winners of the Shakertown – trainer Wesley Ward’s Bound for Nowhere, Breeze Easy’s Imprimis and Amy Dunne, Brenda Miley, Westrock Stables and Jean Wilkinson’s Leinster – are among 24 horses nominated to this year’s race.
Bound for Nowhere won the 2018 Shakertown by 4 lengths but was beaten a neck by Imprimis in 2019 and was third behind Leinster in 2020. Bound for Nowhere has not started since last July’s Shakertown.
Joe Orseno trains Imprimis, who has a win and runner-up finish in two 2021 starts following a troubled trip in finishing 13th to close 2020 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).
Rusty Arnold trains Leinster, who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Winner of the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint (G3) in his 2021 debut, Leinster could join Soaring Free (2004-2005) as the only other back-to-back Shakertown winner.
Allied Racing Stable’s By My Standards, a four-time Grade 2 winner and earner of more than $1.8 million, heads the 19 nominees for the Commonwealth. Trained by Bret Calhoun, By My Standards finished eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in his lone Keeneland start.
Four Grade 1 winners are among the Commonwealth nominees: Jackpot Farm’s Basin, trained by Todd Pletcher; Hronis Racing and Little Red Feather Racing’s Cistron, trained by John Sadler; Something Special Racing’s Hog Creek Hustle, trained by Vickie Foley, and Speedway Stables’ Roadster, trained by Mike Stidham.
Entries for the blockbuster card will be taken Tuesday, March 30. Keeneland will livestream the post position draws for the Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland at Keeneland.com beginning at 11:15 a.m. ET.
TVG will provide live, enhanced coverage of all Keeneland stakes during the Spring Meet, which runs through Friday, April 23. First post is 1:05 p.m.
Following the first two days of the season, Keeneland will be closed Easter Sunday, April 4. Racing will resume Wednesday, April 7, and will be held Wednesdays through Sundays.