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Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s millionaire I’m a Chatterbox heads a field of nine fillies and mares entered Tuesday for the 22nd running of the $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (G3) on Friday afternoon.
The Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare, run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, will go as the ninth race on Friday’s 10-race program with a 5:30 p.m. ET post time. First post time Friday is 1:05 p.m.
Trained by Larry Jones, I’m a Chatterbox won the Cotillion (G1) last September and was disqualified to second after finishing first in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) in July. The daughter of Munnings, who will be piloted by regular rider Florent Geroux and break from post position two, won two other graded stakes last year and was second in the Alabama (G1) and third in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Friday will mark the 2016 debut for I’m a Chatterbox, who finished eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) in her most recent start. (Click here for Keeneland Racing Analyst Tom Leach’s interview with Jones.)
Chief among I’m a Chatterbox’s rivals is Stoneway Farm’s Ahh Chocolate.
Trained by Neil Howard, Ahh Chocolate closed her 2015 campaign with a victory in the Falls City (G2) at Churchill Downs. She has had one start in 2016, finishing third in the Esplanade at Fair Grounds in the mud on March 18.
Brian Hernandez Jr. has the mount on Ahh Chocolate, who will break from post position six.
The field for the Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare, with riders and weights from the rail out, is: Brooklynsway (Robby Albarado, 118 pounds), I’m a Chatterbox (Geroux, 118), WelcomeAboard (Deshawn Parker, 118), Sea Shadow (Javier Castellano, 118), Back in Dixie (Channing Hill, 118), Ahh Chocolate (Hernandez Jr., 120), White Clover (Corey Lanerie, 118), Pretty Fancy (Joe Rocco Jr., 118) and Innovative Idea (James Graham, 118).
Reddam Racing’s Nyquist continued his preparation for the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) by jogging twice around the main track Tuesday morning before the renovation break.
Undefeated in seven starts, Nyquist was partnered as usual by Jonny Garcia and jogged alongside a pony with Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill, aboard.
“Another good morning,” Sisterson said. “He will jog one and gallop one tomorrow, jog Thursday and then work Friday.”
Sisterson was a member of the O’Neill team in 2012 when I’ll Have Another had a magical run of victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1). However, this year there is more attention being paid to Nyquist, the champion 2-year-old of 2015.
“Nobody was following us at all,” Sisterson said of the lack of an entourage during morning training. “When he won the Robert Lewis (G2) that was his first race back since the Hopeful (G1). He was doing well, so we gave him a chance. He won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and then he was 15-1 in the Derby.”
Like 2012, O’Neill has a string of horses with his Derby hopeful.
“His buddy, Donworth, came in yesterday and will be here a couple of days and then come back here,” Sisterson said of the 4-year-old colt who figures to be one of the favorites in Saturday’s $1.25 Charles Town Classic (G2).
“Both Nyquist and I’ll Have Another are laid-back, push-button kinds of horses that you can do anything with. We try to keep the environment much the same as it is at home at Santa Anita. We will have 12-15 horses at Churchill Downs and we will try to keep a routine that worked so well for us four years ago.”
On the same work schedule as Nyquist is Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) winner Land Over Sea. Also owned by Reddam Racing, Land Over Sea and Nyquist could accomplish something that has not been done since 1952 for their connections.
The most recent owner-trainer combination to win the Oaks and Derby the same year was Calumet Farm and Ben Jones, who took the 1952 Oaks with Real Delight and the Derby with Hill Gail.
Halfway through Keeneland’s 16-day Spring Meet, Luis Saez has 13 wins to lead all jockeys. Saez won the Toyota Blue Grass (G1) with Brody’s Cause.
Javier Castellano, the 2015 Spring Meet’s leading rider with 22 wins, is second with 10 victories. They include the Lexington (G3) with Collected.
Third with six wins apiece is Corey Lanerie and Julien Leparoux. Lanerie rode Weep No More to win the Central Bank Ashland (G1). Leparoux rode champion Tepin to win the Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1) and Lightstream to win the Adena Springs Beaumont (G3).
Among leading trainers, Mark Casse has seven wins, including the Coolmore Jenny Wiley with Tepin and the Appalachian (G3) Presented by Japan Racing Association with Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse.
Casse was the leading trainer in Spring 2014 and Fall 2015 (tie with Steve Asmussen and Kenny McPeek).
Conquest Stables of Ernie Semersky and Dory Newell lead all owners during the 2016 Spring Meet with three wins.
Racing resumes Wednesday for the ninth day of the Spring Meet. First post is 1:05 p.m.
During its 2016 Fall Meet from Oct. 7-29, Keeneland will present eight Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. These “Win and You’re In” races will award the winners automatic berths and pay entry fees and provide travel allowances for them to compete in the 33rd Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita on Nov. 4-5.
The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, now in its ninth year, covers 77 races of which 49 are held in the U.S. and Canada and the remaining 28 races are being run outside North America.
The Keeneland races are the Oct. 7 Darley Alcibiades (G1) (awarding the winner a berth to the Juvenile Fillies) and Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) (Sprint); Oct. 8 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) (Juvenile), Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) (Mile) and Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) (Filly and Mare Sprint); Oct. 9 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) (Distaff) and Dixiana Bourbon (G3) (Juvenile Turf); and Oct. 12 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3) (Juvenile Fillies Turf).
On Sunday, Keeneland hosted 128 of the country’s best horseplayers for its prestigious Grade One Gamble handicapping tournament. The winner was Rick Broth of Dunwoody, Ga., who received $10,000 in prize money, a fully paid berth to the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge at Santa Anita and a fully paid berth to the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas in January 2017.
The $3,000 buy-in tournament, which had a live bankroll of $2,000, required players to wager on at least six races at Keeneland, with one-half of their bankrolls wagered in one of the final two races. Broth amassed a total bankroll of $22,468.
Broth, who has been coming to Keeneland for many years, saved one of his best handicapping days for the big payoff. Focusing late on two competitive turf races, he cashed a $1,698.50 trifecta five times on the seventh race, with 5.30-1 winner Quest (GB) on top of $49.40 and $45.50 shots. In the ninth and final race, Broth hit the 50-cent $1,711 Trifecta seven times. As a result, he was nearly $7,000 in front of his nearest rival, with one of the highest winning totals in the eight years of the contest.
Finishing second was Wayne Krause of Metairie, La., who placed a $500 win wager on 30-1 shot Kasaqui (ARG) in the ninth race. The $63.40 payoff resulted in a total bankroll for Krause of $15,850.
The top six finishers in the Grade One Gamble received spots in the BCBC and the NHC. Joining Broth and Krause at the two events are Phillip Shelton and Al Roehl of Lexington, Peter McFarland of Nicholasville, Ky., and Bryan Wagner of New Orleans.
Seventh-place finisher Michael Mulvihill grabbed an NHC spot; eighth- through tenth-place finishers Ellis Starr, Brad Covault and Gary McMaster earned partial BCBC spots. All 10 players received prize money in addition to their final bankrolls.
Riding at Keeneland for the first time, Flavien Prat earned his first victory here Sunday when he rode Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd.’s Quest (GB) to win the seventh race at odds of 5.30-1. Christophe Clement trains Quest, a 4-year-old Mr. Sidney filly who won the one-mile race on the turf by 1¼ lengths in 1:36.48.
$250,000 DIXIANA ELKHORN (G2) (entries taken Wednesday; race Saturday) – A Red Tie Day, Idolo Porteno (ARG), Kaigun, Royal Albert Hall (GB), Twilight Eclipse, Up With the Birds.
$150,000 BEWITCH (G3) (entries taken Tuesday, April 26;, race Friday, April 29, closing day of Spring Meet) – Achnaha (IRE), Button Down (GB), Danza Cavallo (FR), Olorda (GER), Return to Grace.
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