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After the cancelation of the 2020 Keeneland spring meet, the year’s first race for 2-year-olds will now take place at Gulfstream Park on Thursday, April 16. Eight juvenile fillies will enter the gate for the 4 1/2-furlong main track event, carded as race 2 with a local post time of 1:34 PM Eastern.
Regarded as the unofficial king of the Keeneland baby races, trainer Wesley Ward was forced to alter his plans after COVID-19 disrupted the racing industry. He sends out the 7/5 morning line favorite Lime (whom he also bred), and her workout regimen (three bullets in the past four works) indicates that she should be ready to fire.
“The horses I run here right off the bat are very, very quick and speedy,” Ward said. “Those are the ones I’ve targeted for these early races. She is all that. Very fast, very smart. She’s a big filly. The quicker fillies are usually the smaller fillies, but she’s very quick and agile.”
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1. Awesome View (7/2) – Asking a horse to make its debut from the rail is a tough ask, but that is what Awesome View will be tasked with doing. The Jacks or Better Farm homebred is by Awesome of Course, who won three of six starts as a juvenile, including the 6-furlong Inaugural Stakes in 2002.
2. Lime (7/5) – Her workouts have been nothing but stellar, her trainer is 29% with first-time starters, and her pedigree hints at a strong chance of early success. Her sire, Iqbaal, is 40% with juvenile runners and her dam, Home Alona, has seen every prior foal reach the winner’s circle, including one as a debuting juvenile. Expect her final odds to be far below her morning line.
3. Kitten’s Dream (20/1) – Trainer David Rakoff is giving this granddaughter of Kitten’s Joy her first race in a one-turn dirt event, and despite having a pedigree that leans toward two turns on the turf, she is not without a shot. Her full sister, Poppy’s Jewel, broke her maiden as a juvenile in her second career start, a 6-furlong sprint in the Tampa Bay Downs slop.
4. Sophisticurl (10/1) – She will be the first starter for multiple Grade 1-placed Ride On Curlin when she breaks from the gate on Friday. He broke his maiden in his second career start while still a juvenile, and her dam, Sophisticattin, has foaled three older horses to race, two of which won their 2-year-old debuts (though both were entered for a claiming tag).
5. Yafa (8/1) – This daughter of Handsome Mike will try to become the first foal to represent her dam, Red Baroness, in the winner’s circle. Handsome Mike offspring have taken three of 40 debut races as juveniles and trainer Michelle Nihei has won twice in 11 baby unveilings over the past five years.
6. Sister Aurora (20/1) – Trainer Javier Negrete and jockey Alberto Burgos are hoping to duplicate the success that they enjoyed when they joined forces for the first time on April 2, winning with Memorize at 6/1 odds. Sister Aurora has posted a trio of 4-furlong works at the nearby Starting Gate Training Center, including most recently a best-of-10 move in :51.40.
7. Pretzel (6/1) – One of two Juan Alvarado-trained Arindel homebred fillies debuting in this event, she originally attracted the services of top circuit rider Paco Lopez, but that will change due to Lopez undergoing thumb surgery earlier this week. Pretzel is a half-sister to Sweet Khaleesi, who broke her maiden in her fourth start as a juvenile.
8. Quinoa Tifah (9/2) – The other half of the Arindel/Alvarado pair heading into the gate, Quinoa Tifah’s workout lines indicate that she might be a step faster than her stablemate. Her sire, Gemologist, hits at a 15% strike rate with debuting juveniles, and Alvarado is 25% with a $3.55 ROI since 2019 when Emisael Jaramillo (Quinoa Tifah’s jockey) has ridden for him at Gulfstream Park.
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