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Keeneland Barn Notes: Rachel’s Valentina Joins Probable Ashland Cast

Keeneland Barn Notes: Rachel’s Valentina Joins Probable Ashland Cast

Stonestreet Stables’ Rachel’s Valentina, runner-up to champion Songbird in the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) here last fall in her most recent start, has been confirmed as a probable starter in next weekend’s 79th running of the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) for 3-year-old fillies.

Stakes Coordinator Tiffany Bourque said Friday morning that trainer Todd Pletcher had indicated the Central Bank Ashland was a go for Rachel’s Valentina, who is training at Palm Beach Downs in Florida.

Other probable starters for the Central Bank Ashland, which carries 170 points toward the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 6 at Churchill Downs with 100 points to the winner, are Cathryn Sophia, Carina Mia and Weep No More.

Here is the list of probable entrants for other opening weekend stakes:

$100,000 TRANSYLVANIA (G3) PRESENTED BY KEENELAND SELECT (entries taken Monday, race Friday, April 8) – Back Togetheragain, Camelot Kitten, Converge, J R’s Holiday, Shakhimat, Urban Bourbon.

$1 MILLION TOYOTA BLUE GRASS (G1) (entries taken Tuesday, race Saturday, April 9) – American Dubai, Brody’s Cause, Donegal Moon, Hint of Roses, Laoban, Pinson, Star Hill, Twizz.

$300,000 MADISON (G1) (entries taken Tuesday, race Saturday, April 9) – Birdatthewire, Fioretti, Sarah Sis, Spelling Again, Super Majesty, Thirteen Arrows, Wavell Avenue.

$200,000 SHAKERTOWN (G2) (entries taken Tuesday, race Saturday, April 9) – American Sailor, Bye Bernie, Power Alert (AUS), Something Extra.

$250,000 COMMONWEALTH (G3) (entries taken Tuesday, race Saturday, April 9) – Ami’s Flatter, Barbados, Departing, Holy Boss, Salengo, Viva Majorca.

Richard Keith’s American Dubai began his Keeneland preparations for next Saturday’s $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G1) with an easy gallop Friday morning under exercise rider Brian Murphy.

“We got here Wednesday night from Oaklawn and today was his first day at the track,” trainer Rodney Richards said. “He will probably work tomorrow morning and Chris Landeros will ride him in the Blue Grass.”

A Virginia-bred son of E Dubai, American Dubai won at first asking in November at Churchill Downs. This winter at Oaklawn, American Dubai was placed third in an allowance test and then ran third in the Southwest (G3), a prep for the Rebel (G2).

In the Rebel, American Dubai faded to 13th in a field of 14, a race that Richards is willing to throw out.

“I think he had a little bug that day,” said the 49-year-old Richards, a native of Oklahoma. “I think he deserves another chance.”

Richards, who has 10 horses in his stable and another five 2-year-olds in South Carolina, was part of a group that picked the colt out of a 2-year-old sale last year for $50,000.

“He had the body type that I was looking for,” Richards said. “He was a tall, rangy horse.”

The Toyota Blue Grass offers 170 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with 100 going to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 for third and 10 for fourth. American Dubai has two points from his effort in the Southwest and a top two finish here should be enough to get Richards to his first Derby.

“I never have been to the Kentucky Derby,” said Richards, who got his trainer’s license in 2003. “I have a small stable with horses for two owners and it has been a great journey already for us.”

Trainer Larry Jones, who has a 32-horse string here for the Spring Meet, will saddle three runners Saturday at Turfway Park, including Jensen in the $500,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral (G3).

Jones, who saddled Lovely Maria to win last spring’s Central Bank Ashland (G1) as well as the Kentucky Oaks (G1), has 999 victories in a career that began in 1982.

Jones will start He’ll Pay in the $100,000 Rushaway and then two races later send out Jensen in the Spiral.

“It would be even better if I do it with him,” Jones said of reaching 1,000 wins. “He is named for my youngest grandson, Jensen Jones (who lives in Louisville). The horse is older than he is.”

Jones and his wife Cindy, who have nine grandchildren, own and bred Jensen.

Among the horses Jones has here are I’m a Chatterbox and Thirteen Arrows.

Owned by Fletcher and Carolyn Gray, I’m a Chatterbox is scheduled to make her 2016 debut in the $100,000 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (G3) on April 22. The three-time graded stakes winner has not raced since finishing eighth in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) here.

Fox Hill Farms’ Thirteen Arrows, a two-time stakes winner, is targeting next Saturday’s $300,000 Madison (G1).

Source: Keeneland

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