Champions lead nominations for Keeneland's opening weekend stakes

Press Release
March 26, 2019 11:05am
Champions lead nominations for Keeneland's opening weekend stakes
Photo: Bee Buck Photography

Champions Monomoy Girl and Shamrock Rose are among the four 2018 Breeders’ Cup winners – joining Bulletin and Newspaperofrecord – who are nominated to the nine stakes worth $2.85 million being run at Keeneland April 4-7 to kick off the 16-day 2019 Spring Meet.


For the first time in 60 years, the Spring Meet opens on a Thursday with a first post of 3 p.m. The feature race on April 4 is the inaugural running of the $100,000 Palisades Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds going 5½ furlongs on the grass. Among the 46 horses nominated to the race is Bulletin, trained by Todd Pletcher for WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing.


The Palisades Turf Sprint would mark the 2019 debut for Bulletin, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in November for his second victory in two starts.


Trainer Wesley Ward has 18 runners nominated to the Palisades Turf Sprint, including Hat Creek Racing’s Chelsea Cloisters, runner-up to Bulletin in the Juvenile Turf Sprint. Also nominated is John Oxley’s Strike Silver, winner of last fall’s Indian Summer at Keeneland. Mark Casse trains Strike Silver.


Entries for the Palisades Turf Sprint and the other seven races on opening day will be taken Monday, April 1.


First post for the remainder of the Spring Meet is 1:05 p.m.


The first graded stakes of the season will be the 31st running of the $150,000 Transylvania (G3) on Friday, April 5. The 1 1/16-mile turf test for 3-year-olds attracted 42 nominations headed by the 1-2 finishers from last fall’s Dixiana Bourbon (G3): Robert LaPenta, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Dixiana Farms’ Current and Bloom Racing Stable’s Henley’s Joy. Those two finished a nose apart in the race.

Pletcher trains Current, and Mike Maker conditions Henley’s Joy.


Highlighting opening weekend are the 95th running of the $1 million Blue Grass (G2) and the 82nd running of the $500,000 Ashland (G1), both to be run Saturday, April 6. The respective races award the winner 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1).


A total of 143 3-year-olds are nominated to the Toyota Blue Grass. Among the previously announced nominees to the Blue Grass are champion Game Winner and Grade 2 winner War of Will. The 101 3-year-old fillies nominated to the Ashland are the previously announced champion Jaywalk and Grade 2 winner Serengeti Empress.


The two classic preps are joined on the April 6 card by three other graded stakes: 18th running of the $300,000 Madison (G1) for fillies and mares going 7 furlongs on dirt; 33rd running of the $250,000 Commonwealth (G3) for 4-year-olds and up at 7 furlongs on dirt; and 23rd running of the $200,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on the turf.


Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables’ Monomoy Girl, who is trained by Brad Cox, and Conrad Farms’ Shamrock Rose, trained by Casse, are among the 30 nominations to the Madison. Others include Grade 1 winners Marley’s Freedom, owned by Cicero Farms and trained by Bob Baffert, and Pantofel Stable, Wachtel Stable and Peter Deutsch’s Spiced Perfection, trained by Peter Miller.


Monomoy Girl has not raced since winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Third in the March 16 Azeri (G2) at Oaklawn Park in her second of two races in 2019, Shamrock Rose won the Lexus Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland last fall prior to winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1).


The Commonwealth attracted 39 nominations headed by last year’s top three finishers: Churchill Downs Racing Club’s Warrior’s Club, trained by D. Wayne Lukas; Katherine Ball’s Limousine Liberal, trained by Ben Colebrook; and Chuck Hovitz’s Awesome Saturday, trained by John Kimmel.


Topping the 34 nominees for the Shakertown is defending champion Bound for Nowhere.

Owned and trained by Wesley Ward, Bound for Nowhere cruised to a 4-length victory in the Shakertown last year. Soaring Free, in 2004 and 2005, is the only horse to post back-to-back victories in the race.


Completing the opening week stakes lineup on Sunday, April 7, are the 31st running of the $200,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association for 3-year-old fillies going a mile on turf and the 34th running of the $150,000 Beaumont (G3) for 3-year-old fillies going 7 furlongs, 184 feet on dirt.


Klaravich Stables’ undefeated Newspaperofrecord, a 6¾-length winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), tops a list of 48 nominees for the Appalachian. She is trained by Chad Brown, who earned his third Appalachian victory in 2018 with Rushing Fall.


The Beaumont is the final prep in Kentucky for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 3 at Churchill. A total of 17 Kentucky Oaks points will be available in the race on a 10-4-2-1 scale for the top four finishers.


Headlining the list of 47 nominees are two undefeated runners: Klaravich Stables’ Feedback, winner of the Forward Gal (G3) in February in her most recent start, and Lothenbach Stables’ Bell’s the One.


Brown trains Feedback, who is two-for-two, and Neil Pessin trains Bell’s the One, a four-time winner with two victories on all-weather and grass surfaces and two wins on dirt, including a sprint triumph last fall at Keeneland.

 

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