Gary Barber’s Jack Milton, a Keeneland sales graduate, swept past pace-setting Redwood Kitten midstretch and then held off a furious late charge from Up With the Birds to win the 25th running of the Transylvania Stakes (G3) for three-year-olds by a neck before a crowd of 22,921 on the opening day of Keeneland’s 16-day spring meet.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, Jack Milton covered the 1 1/16 miles on a firm turf course in 1:41.80. A Kentucky-bred son of War Front out of the Forty Niner mare Preserver, Jack Milton improved his record to 3-2-1-0 and added $60,000 to his bankroll to hike his career earnings to $93,900.
Redwood Kitten led the field of 10 through fractions of :23.41, :47.43 and 1:11.98 while under mild pressure from Star Contender as Velazquez had Jack Milton racing in the second flight of runners just a couple of lengths off the pace.
Approaching the far turn, Jack Milton made a three-wide move and struck the front as the field hit midstretch. Up With the Birds got clear running on the far outside in the stretch but never could catch Jack Milton.
Jack Milton returned mutuels of $7.20, $4.40 and $3.40. Up With the Birds, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, returned $5.20 and $3.80 and finished two lengths ahead of Redwood Kitten, ridden by Julien Leparoux, who returned $4.80 to show.
It was another 1½ lengths back to Brown Almighty, who was followed in order by Amen Kitten, Bambazonki, Star Contender, Fire Guard, Holiday Star and Bethel.