(Master of Seas / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

From the Keeneland Media Team / Amy Owens:

BREEDERS’ CUP WINNER MASTER OF THE SEAS (IRE)
READY FOR 2024 DEBUT IN MAKER’S MARK MILE

Godolphin’s Master of The Seas (IRE), last seen posting a nose victory over fellow Godolphin runner Mawj (IRE) in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) Presented by PDJF at Santa Anita, will make his 2024 debut Friday in the $600,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1).

“He is a worthy favorite,” said trainer Charlie Appleby, who arrived at Keeneland Thursday morning. “He broke his maiden on soft ground, and he’s won a Group 2 on soft.”

Master of The Seas is following the same path that Appleby plotted last year for Modern Games (IRE), who started 2023 in the Maker’s Mark Mile with a runner-up finish.

“At home in England, there are a lot of penalties for top-rated horses and here there are more spots, more opportunities,” Appleby said. “But you have to have the right horse to come here. This gives you the chance to learn the patterns … formats for later on (in North America) and it gives them experience.”

In addition to Master of The Seas, Appleby will saddle Naval Power (GB) for Godolphin. Naval Power has won six of seven career races with his most recent victory coming in the Singspiel (G2) at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai off a 13-month layoff.

“He has won on soft ground, and this will give him a chance to gain experience over here,” Appleby said.

In Saturday’s $600,000 Jenny Wiley (G1) for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles, the lightly raced English Rose (IRE) will represent Godolphin.

“She is dropping down in trip (from 1 1/8 miles), and it will be a little on the sharper side for her,” Appleby said about English Rose, who has won three of four races. “We are looking toward targets like the ($500,000) Diana (G1) at Saratoga (on July 13 going 1 1/8 miles).”

Appleby has seven runners here, two of which already have run. Musical Act (IRE) was fifth in last Friday’s Transylvania (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select, andMischief Magic (IRE) was second in last Saturday’s Shakertown (G2). Still to come next weekend are Bold Act (IRE) and Silver Knott (GB) in the VisitLEX Elkhorn (G2).

“They are all looking good, and I am happy with them,” Appleby said.


SHIRL’S SPEIGHT RETURNS TO SCENE OF BIGGEST VICTORY

Charles Fipke’s homebred Shirl’s Speight can join some select company Friday should he prevail in the 36th running of the $600,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1).

Winner of the 2022 running of the Maker’s Mark Mile by a nose, Shirl’s Speight could join Wise Dan (2013-2014) and Kip Deville (2007-2008) as the two-time winners of the race. In 11 races since that triumph, Shirl’s Speight has not found the winner’s circle.

“Hard to believe, but he has been running in all of the big ones with a couple of seconds,” trainer Roger Attfield said Thursday morning as a steady rain beat down. “He’s been doing well since his last race, which was the Pegasus (World Cup Turf Invitational-G1 on Jan. 27).”

Shirl’s Speight has raced twice at Keeneland with his other start resulting in a runner-up finish at 55-1 odds in the 2022 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) Presented by PDJF. His victory in the Maker’s Mark Mile came over a turf course listed as good, a condition that is possible Friday given two days of rain in Lexington.

“Hopefully the race stays on the grass,” Attfield said. “He has won a couple on ‘good’ courses.”

The goal for Shirl’s Speight this year is a return to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which  will be held at Del Mar Nov. 1-2. His schedule will not be anything like 2023 in which he ran in Japan and Dubai.

“Last year his schedule got all messed up with going to Japan, and he had to miss the summer getting over the trip there and to Dubai,” Attfield said.

Attfield said this is the final year of racing for the 7-year-old Shirl’s Speight, but the next generation is ready to get started here Saturday. Ready for Shirl, a 3-year-old half-sister to Shirl’s Speight, is scheduled to make her debut in Saturday’s fifth race going 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

LOCAL APPRENTICE BEALMEAR FULFILLS DREAM
OF RIDING AT KEENELAND

Like many kids growing up around horses, Joe Bealmear had visions of being of jockey. But his vision was specific: He wanted to ride races at Keeneland. On Wednesday, Bealmear’s dream came true when he finished second aboard Andrew Ritter’s first-time starter Tuxedo Park in Race 2.

Bealmear, 19, is the son of former jockeys Laura and Ben Bealmear, who both rode races at Keeneland during their careers. His mother won four races from 98 career mounts as Laura Loveland from 1980-1984 before transitioning to training. His father had 66 wins in 623 races from 1979-1982 before becoming a veterinarian.

Growing up in the Lexington area, Joe Bealmear spent much of his time at Keeneland.

“My first job at the race track was galloping horses here,” he said. “I spent years with the people on the backstretch at Keeneland. So it is just so awesome for it all to pay off and finally get to ride a race.”

Bealmear, who began his riding career last November at Turfway Park, has 16 wins – all at Oaklawn Park. He plans to divide his time between Oaklawn and Keeneland and then continue his career at Churchill Downs and Horseshoe Indianapolis.

His parents were at Keeneland for his local debut. In a field of a dozen 2-year-olds racing 4½ furlongs on a sloppy track, Tuxedo Park and Bealmear were quickly away from the 7 post and raced just behind the leaders in the early stages. They were second in midstretch but were unable to catch the front-running Raise the Bar, who cruised to a 2¼-length victory.

“It was awesome,” Bealmear said about the performance. “I felt so familiar with the track. And for the horse to run that good for me was really special. He is a great horse from (trainer) Paul McEntee’s great team. I am thankful to be here and be a part of it.”

PROSPECTIVE FIELDS FOR UPCOMING STAKES

Friday, April 19 race. Entries taken Friday, April 12.

$300,000 Baird Doubledogdare (G3) – Loved (trainer Brendan Walsh). Possible: Curl Girl (Phil D’Amato), Heavenly Sunday (Brad Cox).

Saturday, April 20 races. Entries taken Saturday, April 13.

$350,000 VisitLEX Elkhorn (G2) – Bold Act (IRE) (Charlie Appleby), Highland Chief (IRE) (Graham Motion), Silver Knott (GB) (Appleby), Wentru (Will Walden).

$300,000 Ben Ali (G3) – Archie the Giza (Robbie Medina), Dynamic One (Todd Pletcher), Happy American (Neil Pessin), Kingsbarns (Pletcher), War Campaign (Phil Sims).

SPRING MEET LEADERS

 

Through April 10 (4 days of 16-day season)

Jockey Starts Wins 2nd 3rd Purses
Tyler Gaffalione 28 7 3 4 $1,415,603
Jose Ortiz 23 6 4 3 $693,097
Irad Ortiz Jr. 25 5 6 5 $1,090,502
Luis Saez 22 3 0 3 $523,556

Trainer Starts Wins 2nd 3rd Purses
Wesley Ward 14 4 2 2 $318,270
Chad Brown 8 3 0 0 $758,455

Trainers Phil Bauer, Brad Cox, Cherie DeVaux, Kenny McPeek, Bill Mott
and Todd Pletcher have two wins each.

Owner Wins
Red, White and Blue Racing (Randy Gullat) 2
Rigney Racing (Richard Rigney) 2

 

SECOND WEEK SPECIAL EVENTS

Year-round

Official Keeneland Tours. Click here for availability and to purchase.

Through Aug. 16

Keeneland Library is recognizing this year’s historic running of the Toyota Blue Grass at its free exhibit, A Rite of Spring: The 100th Running of the Blue Grass Stakes. The exhibit features photographs that capture race highlights curated from Keeneland Library collections and public submissions from professional and amateur photographers along with memorabilia from noted jockeys Bill Shoemaker, Mike Manganello and Chris Antley and celebrated runners Whirlaway, Riva Ridge, Spectacular Bid and Strike the Gold.

Open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Library is located on the Keeneland campus. Enter Keeneland at Gate 1 on Keeneland Blvd. and take the first right on Entertainment Ct. The Library is to the left of the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center.

Click here for the virtual companion to the exhibit.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday

The Hill. Keeneland’s popular tailgating area is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the Spring Meet, weather permitting. NOTE: Due to rain accumulation this week, operations on The Hill will be suspended on Friday, April 12.

No ticket or reservation is required for The Hill, located adjacent to the Keene Barn & Entertainment Center and accessible via Gate 1 (at Man o’ War Blvd.) or Gate 4 (off Van Meter Road on the east side of Keeneland).

Fans on The Hill can watch the racing action via a jumbo TV and place their bets in a wagering tent while they enjoy live music presented by The Burl, food trucks and handicapping assistance from BETologists. Complimentary shuttles to the track are offered.

For fans who want to elevate their experience, Keeneland again is partnering with RevelXP to offer tailgate packages for groups of any size. RevelXP will organize tailgates by furnishing a designated tent, catering, amenities and more. Visit Keeneland.com/tailgating for full details.

The Hill is open from 8 a.m. to 60 minutes after the last race. Amenities are available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Keeneland Shop is open from 9 a.m. to 30 minutes following the final race. Milliners Corner,  Wagering Central and Finish Line locations also are open on race days.

Friday, April 12

Spring Handicapping Challenge. Available only at the track, the Spring Handicapping Challenge offers one berth to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) in November at Del Mar and as many as four spots to the 2025 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) in Las Vegas. Players will wager a live bankroll of $250 on Keeneland races. Click here for more information.

 

Saturday, April 13

 

Sunrise Trackside. This free Saturday morning program from 8-10 a.m. is geared toward families and offers a unique view of Thoroughbreds during training hours. Fans can enjoy coffee and donuts at the Starting Gate concession stand while watchinghorses train. Children’s activities on the first floor of the Grandstand will include a visit with Keeneland mascot Buckles, face painting and games. Mini tours will be available at the Welcome Stand near the Paddock.

Every Saturday, the John Deere Tractor Break will take place during the renovation period on the main track from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and include a drawing for a kid’s tractor from John Deere/Meade Tractor. Meet a horse from the Life Adventure Center of Versailles, Kentucky, will be offered in the Walking Ring from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

 

Grade 1 Gamble. The signature handicapping contest of the Spring Meet is the Grade 1 Gamble, which Keeneland is hosting in cooperation with XpressBet, NYRABets, 4NJ Bets, HPI and TVG on the day of the Jenny Wiley (G1), Stonestreet Lexington (G3) and Giant’s Causeway (G3). Entry fee is $3,500 with $2,500 going to a live bankroll and $1,000 to the prize fund. Contestants may play at Keeneland or on one of the aforementioned ADW platforms. Prizes include an estimated $75,000 for first place (based on 300 entries), as many as six berths in the BCBC and 10 spots in the NHC. Click here to register and for more information.

Sunday, April 14

Heroes Day. Event honors members of the military (active duty and veterans), first responders, health care workers and their families. Heroes and their families will receive free general admission, reserved Grandstand seating and a complimentary meal at the North Terrace provided by Marriott Griffin Gate. The day will have special programming on the track, including a flag rollout by the Henry Clay High School Junior ROTC and the singing of “God Bless America” by Dr. Everett McCorvey, and honoree recognitions in the Winner’s Circle.

A POW-MIA Chair of Honor will be displayed near the Paddock to bring awareness to past and current POW-MIA military members through a partnership with The Rolling Thunder Kentucky Chapter 5.

Each hero is eligible to receive up to six complimentary tickets. Visit https://keeneland.com/racing/heroes-day for more information and to reserve complimentary ticket.s