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Keeneland Spring Opening Weekend

Keeneland Spring Opening Weekend

The start of the Keeneland spring meet is quickly approaching and its opening cards are nothing short of exceptional. The prestigious first weekend will feature several Breeders’ Cup winners, including Rushing Fall and Good Magic. Here you will find summaries of the meet’s first major races and potential entries:

Friday, April 6

Grade 3, $150,000 Transylvania Stakes

The nominations are very strong, fitting for the first stakes of the meet. The Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes winner Analyze It looms large in his 2018 return to the track, but he’s not alone, as several other major contenders were nominated:

  • Maraud – the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes winner
  • Dragon Drew – the Black Gold Overnight Stakes winner
  • Admiralty Pier – the Display Stakes winner
  • Captivating Moon – the Columbia Stakes runner-up
  • Beer Pressure – the Kingarvie Stakes runner-up
  • Tap Daddy – the Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes runner-up
  • Tigers Rule – the Dixiana Bourbon third-place finisher

Blue Grass Stakes Wagering Guide

Saturday, April 7

Grade 2, $1,000,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes

With 100 derby points going to the winner (and 40-20-10 to the next three), the nominations for this historic prep are overflowing with stellar 3-year-olds (Good Magic, Bolt D’Oro, Magnum Moon, etc.) So many top colts being nominated doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority will actually make it to the post. Fortunately for us, our friend Saratoga Slim tracks all of this on his Derby Trail Tracker page. Let’s take a look at his probable field:

Grade 1, $500,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes

Like its male counterpart, this pivotal race for 3-year-old fillies awards Kentucky Oaks points to its top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 basis. Monomoy Girl has looked great thus far, and a short field will look to challenge her:

Grade 1, $300,000 Madison Stakes

Several nominees with experience over the Keeneland track will make the Madison competitive this year. Local favorite Finley’sluckycharm already earned a victory over the course in last year’s Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes. Some other dangerous nominations include:

Grade 3, $250,000 Commonwealth Stakes

This race is setting up to be a test of old class and new challengers to the sprint division. Limousine Liberal is entered again this year after a fantastic race last year. Some other key players:

Grade 2, $200,000 Shakertown Stakes

This exciting turf sprint is wide open. Disco Partner drew the extreme outside of a full field which could be tough to overcome. Other horses to watch:

  • Bucchero – winner of the Grade 2 Woodford Stakes
  • Recruiting Ready(AE) – winner of the $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes
  • Tombelaine – fourth in the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes
  • Flashaway – third in the Colonel Power Overnight Stakes
  • Frisky Magician with Ryan Moore picking up the mount
  • Big Handsome third in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes
  • Commute third in the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes
  • Loose On The Town third in the Damascus Stakes
  • Bound For Nowhere tenth in the Grade 1 LARC Prix Maurice de Gheest

Premium Picks Wagering Guide

Sunday, April 8

Grade 3, $150,000 Beaumont Stakes

The Beaumont, a shorter Kentucky Oaks prep with matching shorter point totals (10-4-2-1), traditionally has more speed than the Ashland. There are several fillies cross-nominated for both races. Those that seem to prefer a one turn race should show up here:

  • Dream It Is – winner of the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes
  • Gas Station Sushi – winner of a Del Mar maiden special weight
  • Upset Brewing fifth in the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes
  • Sunny Skies – seventh in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes
  • Happy Like A Fool – winner of the Grade 3 Matron Stakes
  • Kelly’s Humor – runner-up in the Pocahontas
  • Summer Sunday – undefeated with two Woodbine black-type stakes wins
  • In The Mood – runner-up in the Bourbonette Oaks
  • Uppercut – winner of a Santa Anita maiden special weight

Grade 2, $200,000 Appalachian Stakes

The final stakes race of the weekend will see the return of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Rushing Fall. This imposing filly will be very tough to beat. Her trainer, Chad Brown, has a plethora of nominations to this race and seems poised for a successful close to opening weekend. Some of the challengers to Rushing Fall could be:

  • Thewayiam – winner of the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes
  • Daddy Is A Legend – winner of the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante Stakes
  • Dixie Moon – winner of the $125,000 Ontario Lassie Stakes
  • She’s Pretty Lucky – sixth in the Herecomesthebride
  • Ultima D – twelfth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf
  • Goodthingstaketime – runner up in the Florida Oaks
  • Beach Waltz – winner of the Mrs. Presidentress Stakes
  • Cash Out – fourth in the Florida Oaks
  • Heavenly Love – seventh in the Rachel Alexandra

That wraps up the opening weekend stakes action at Keeneland! For a full list of nominations and past performances click here.

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