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All remains well with Reddam Racing’s undefeated champion and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) favorite Nyquist on Tuesday morning, reported Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill.
About 7:40 a.m., Nyquist and exercise rider Jonny Garcia jogged about a mile alongside Sisterson on a pony. Nyquist left the pony and galloped once around the 1 1/16-mile track.
“Just his regular jog one, gallop one,” Sisterson said. “Tomorrow he’ll jog.”
Keeneland and O’Neill today announced that Nyquist will turn in his final breeze for the Derby on Friday at 12:15 p.m. ET. The colt is to move to Churchill Downs on Saturday.
The work will be the third at Keeneland for Nyquist, who has been stabled here since April 3, the day after he won the Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1). O’Neill’s other runners at Keeneland include Reddam’s Land Over Sea, expected to make her next start in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
She too is following her typical schedule with a jog once around the track Tuesday. She also is to work Friday.
O’Neill said during today’s NTRA Communications National Media Teleconference that he would like to return to Kentucky later today and be at Keeneland Wednesday morning.
A pair of 2016 graded stakes winners head a field of 12 older fillies and mares entered for Friday’s 55th running of the $150,000 Bewitch (G3).
The closing-day Bewitch, run at 1 1/2 miles on the turf, will go as the ninth race Friday afternoon with a 5:30 ET post time. First post for the 10-race program is 1:05 p.m.
Haras Phillipson Inc.’s Generosidade (URU) won the 1½-mile San Luis Rey (G2) on the Santa Anita turf on March 13 and enters the Bewitch off a runner-up finish in the 1 7/8-mile San Juan Capistrano (G3) at Santa Anita on April 10. She has been based this year at Santa Anita after previously racing in Argentina, Brazil and France.
Paulo Lobo trains the 7-year-old mare, who will be ridden by Tiago Josue Pereira and break from post position 11. The Bewitch will mark the first Keeneland race for Lobo and Pereira.
Olorda (GER), who finished fourth in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End (G1) at Keeneland last fall, comes off a neck victory in The Very One (G3) at Gulfstream Park on March 5 in her first North American win. Julien Leparoux will retain the mount on Martin Schwartz’s 4-year-old filly. Trained by Chad Brown, Olorda will break from post position eight.
Generosidade and Olorda both were assigned top weight of 120 pounds for the Bewitch, as were Highland Yard’s Miss Chatelaine and Calumet Farm’s Return to Grace. The Bewitch marks the 2016 debut for Miss Chatelaine and Return to Grace.
The field for the Bewitch, with riders and weights, from the inside is: Street of Gold (Robby Albarado, 118 pounds), Miss Chatelaine (James Graham, 120), Goodyearforroses (IRE)(Paco Lopez, 118), Annulment (Gary Stevens, 118), Songoficeandfire (Jose Lezcano, 118), Button Down (GB) (Velazquez, 118), Return to Grace (Joe Rocco Jr., 120), Olorda (GER) (Leparoux, 120), Achnaha (IRE) (Corey Lanerie, 118), Personal Diary (Florent Geroux, 118), Generosidade (URU) (Pereira, 120) and Al’s Gal (Javier Castellano, 118).
When Julien Leparoux first arrived at Keeneland for the 2005 Fall Meet, he often was reminded how challenging it is for even the world’s top jockeys to have success here given the depth and talent of the jockey colony. Eleven years and 400 victories later, Leparoux marvels at how far he’s come.
“The first time I came here (to ride) in 2005, I won one race and it was the last day of the meet,” Leparoux said Tuesday morning. “I was really happy to just have won one, so I wasn’t really expecting (success like this). I remember winning races at Turfway (Park) and people reminding me that going to Keeneland wasn’t going to be the same.
“It’s great company here. Every meet is tough and full of good jockeys. It’s a pleasure to be here every meet. Every time you come to Keeneland it’s beautiful, the people are nice, the races are great, so to be able to do good is fun.”
In Sunday’s ninth and final race, Leparoux became the fifth rider to reach 400 wins at Keeneland when he rode Jim and Susan Hill’s Gio’s Calling to victory for trainer Brian Lynch. He joined Pat Day (918 wins), Don Brumfield (716), Robby Albarado (478) and Shane Sellers (412) as riders to reach that mark.
“I didn’t even know it was coming,” Leparoux said with a laugh. “I saw it on Twitter when Keeneland tweeted something, so that’s how I knew. It’s my favorite race track so it’s very, very nice to be able to be here and do good. The jockeys in front of me (on the Keeneland all-time wins list) … are big names.”
Leparoux became just the fifth jockey to win 50 stakes at Keeneland when he rode Robert Masterson’s champion Tepin to victory in the Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1) on April 16. The winner of a total of three stakes during the 2016 Spring Meet, he now has 51 career stakes wins at Keeneland.
Leparoux also has 10 Keeneland riding titles to tie for third in that category with Steve Brooks, claiming the titles in Spring 2006 (tied as an apprentice with Rafael Bejarano), 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014 and Fall 2006, 2010-2012. On April 20, 2012, he won six races to join Randy Romero and Craig Perret as the only jockeys to accomplish that feat at Keeneland.
“The atmosphere here with all the people and the fans that all love racing makes me want to do good,” Leparoux said. “Those big weekends when you’ve got 20,000 to 30,000 fans, it’s fun to be here and why I race at Keeneland and why it’s my favorite track.”
Horses of the Year Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta and two Eclipse Award-winning horsemen, trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ramon Dominguez, were announced on Monday as 2016 inductees into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame. All have connections to Keeneland.
Rachel Alexandra is the dam of Rachel’s Valentina, a 3-year-old daughter of Bernardini who was second here in the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) in October and the Central Bank Ashland (G1) on April 9. Conditioned by Todd Pletcher, she had trained here until relocating to Churchill Downs on Monday to prepare for her next scheduled start in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 6.
Rachel Alexandra resides near Keeneland at Stonestreet Farms.
Zenyatta made her first appearance at Keeneland during the 2005 September Yearling Sale, where she sold for $60,000 to owners Jerry and Ann Moss. After a racing career in which she won 19 of 20 races and earned $7,304,580, Zenyatta on Dec. 6, 2010, returned to Keeneland for a farewell party.
That day, more than 1,000 fans braved freezing temperatures and gathered at the outdoor show ring next to the Keeneland Sales Pavilion to welcome Zenyatta to Kentucky before she began her broodmare career at nearby Lane’s End Farm. Fans traveled from as far away as California, New York, Michigan and Ohio to see Zenyatta, who was presented a gift basket of her favorite treats, including mints, pears and Guinness beer, by Keeneland officials.
Asmussen, who trained Rachel Alexandra for much of her career, has won 113 races at Keeneland, where he sent out his first winner during the 1999 Spring Meet. He was the leading trainer during the 2004 Spring and Fall Meets (latter in a tie) and the 2015 Fall Meet (in a tie)
Asmussen has five stakes wins at Keeneland: 2003 Lafayette (G3) with Posse, 2004 Lafayette with Bwana Charlie, 2004 Coolmore Lexington (G2) with Quintons Gold Rush, 2004 Valley View (G3) with Sister Swank and 2007 Bryan Station with Inca King.
Dominguez won 11 races here, including seven stakes. He rode champion Gio Ponti to victories in the 2007 Woodford Reserve Bourbon and 2010 and 2011 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1). Dominguez also won the 2000 McConnell Springs on Trajectory, 2001 A.P. Indy on Confessional, 2007 Thoroughbred Club of America (G3) on Wild Gams and 2011 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) on Aruna.
The Hall of Fame inductees were chosen by a nationwide voting panel of 188 racing writers, broadcasters, industry officials and historians from a group of 10 finalists selected by the Hall of Fame’s 16 member Nominating Committee.
Results of the Hall of Fame’s Historic Review and Pillars of the Turf categories will be announced in May.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is Aug. 12 at Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Click here for more information.
Harold Queen’s homebred Sheer Drama, winner of the April 9 Madison (G1), worked five furlongs in :59.60 over a fast track Tuesday morning. David Fawkes trains the 5-year-old Burning Roma mare, who is scheduled to make her next start in the May 6 La Troienne (G1) at Churchill Downs. The breeze was her first move since she won the Madison by a neck over Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Stopchargingmaria.
Three trainers earned their first Keeneland victories Sunday. In the first race, Tommy R. Mills sent out Yellow Diamond Farm’s Paige Got Even to a 9¼-length victory. Didiel Osorio rode the 4-year-old filly by Stephen Got Even who covered seven furlongs in 1:24.06.
Keith Bourgeois won the second race with Larry Benoit’s Madelyn’s Wild Max. The 5-year-old, Louisiana-bred gelding by My Friend Max, ridden by Robby Albarado, won the 6½-furlong race by a neck in 1:17.11.
In the sixth race, Eric Guillot sent out Fearless Dragon to a half-length victory under Paco Lopez. Southern Equine Stable and Robert G. Li own Fearless Dragon, a 3-year-old Speightstown colt who covered about seven furlongs in 1:27.06.
Wednesday, April 27
Keeneland Shop’s Milliners Corner presents Leslie Corea of Dorfman Pacific adjacent to the Walking Ring from 9 a.m. to the last race.
WINS-day Challenge, a handicapping contest presented by Malone’s and Daily Racing Form. At Wagering Central, contestants can sign up to play for a $10 entry fee, then make a mythical $2 win and place wager on Keeneland races 3 through 8. The contest offers a guaranteed $2,500 pool, and the first 200 participants receive a free Daily Racing Form and a card for a free appetizer at Malone’s.
Thursday, April 28
Herald-Leader Subscriber Day gives Lexington Herald-Leader subscribers free general admission with the coupon found on the front page of Thursday’s newspaper. Fans can meetHerald-Leader personalities throughout the race day.
The Keeneland Shop presents a book signing with Donald Palmer, author of Driven by the Passion to Own Race Horses, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Closing Day – Friday, April 29
Craft Beer Tent. The special selection of beers on the North Terrace will include Blue Stallion, Country Boy, Fat Tire, Kentucky Ale Race Day IPA, Land Shark, Shock Top, Sierra Nevada and Woodchuck Hard Cider.
Tailgating on The Hill. Keeneland’s hugely popular tailgate lot, The Hill, located adjacent to the Keene Barn & Entertainment Center, features local food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, race-day programs, a Keeneland Shop kiosk and free shuttles to the track.
Friday Pick 4 Presented by TVG. A $200,000-guaranteed pool will be offered on the final four races of the day.
Concert on The Hill. Keeneland closes the Spring Meet in style with a free concert immediately after the final race with music from Emerson Drive and Sundy Best. Proceeds from the event benefit the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Foundation.
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