Split Divisions of Keertana Headline Churchill Card

May 15, 2015 08:50am
Split divisions of the $65,000 Keertana Stakes, which is run at a distance of 1 3/8 miles over the Matt Winn Turf Course, will be the featured live racing events at Churchill Downs on Preakness Day. 
The 1 3/8-mile event is named for Barbara Hunter’s homebred Keertana, who won four of her nine starts at Churchill Downs which included a nose triumph over males in the $111,200 Louisville Handicap (GIII) in 2011. The daughter of Johar also won the Regret Stakes (GIII) in 2009.   She also ran third over the Matt Winn Turf Course to Shared Account and Midday in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI) in 2010.
The first division of the 1 3/8-mile race features Ramona Bass’s  Courteasan, who is the 3-1 morning line favorite and is coming off of a fourth-place effort in the Bewitch Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland, where she was beaten 2 ½ lengths for trainer Christophe Clement. The four-year-old daughter of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense will be looking for her first victory since a triumph in the Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park in November 2013.  Courteasan, who will be ridden by Corey Lanerie, is one of only two horses in the 10-horse field with a stakes win on her resume.  Stella Perdomo’s Meri Shika is the only other filly or mare in the race with a stakes win on their resume. The French-bred daughter of Sprit One, who is coming off of an allowance win at Keeneland, scored a stakes victory last August at Woodbine in the Flaming Page Stakes for trainer Roger Attfield. The five-year-old mare started off her career in her native France before moving across the pond to join Attfield’s stable at Woodbine. She has won two of her twelve starts in North America and will be ridden by jockey Luis Quinonez.
Of the ten fillies entered in the race, Patricia Mosley’s Bitty Kitty is the only horse with multiple wins on Churchill turf, the homebred daughter of Kitten’s Joy has won two of her three starts over the Matt Winn Turf Course. Last May she broke her maiden on her tenth attempt, which then followed with an allowance victory over the Churchill turf. The Brendan Walsh-trained mare is looking to end a steak of losses, all of which have come against graded stakes company and will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, who won this race in its inaugural running in 2013 aboard Treasured Up.
Curtis Green’s Maria Maria is coming off of a third-place effort in the Bewitch Stakes (GIII), where she ran ahead of the morning line favorite Courteasan. The homebred daughter of Curlin will be making her first start for trainer Steve Asmussen. She was previously trained by James DiVito.
All fillies and mares for both divisions will carry 121 pounds. The field for the first division of the Keertana Stakes, from the rail out (with jockey): Bitty Kitty (Shaun Bridgmohan), Meri Shaka (Fr) (Luis Quinonez) First Romance (Francisco Torres), Courteasan (Corey Lanerie), Ketel Twist (Albin Jiminez), Freethinker (Jon Court), VV Goodnight (Robby Albarado), Super Sky (Marcelino Pedroza), Maria Maria (Joe Rocco, Jr.) and Stellaris (James Graham)
The second-division of the Keertana Stakes is headlined by Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Always Kitten, who is looking to end a streak of seven straight losses. The homebred daughter of Kitten’s Joy is coming off of a seventh-place finish in the Very One Stakes (GIII) at Gulfstream Park where she was beaten by graded stakes winner Irish Mission. Her last victory took place last March in the Jersey Lilly Stakes at Sam Houston Race Course. Miguel Mena has the mount for trainer Mike Maker.
Antionette Oppenheimer’s Eastern Belle will be making only her second start in the United States, the British-bred daughter of Champs Elysees made her U.S. debut for trainer Graham Motion last time out in an allowance race at Keeneland, where she finished third beaten 4 ¾ lengths. The four-year-old filly has compiled an 8-3-0-1 record with her only finish off the board coming in the Nassau Stakes (Group 1) at Goodwood in her native Great Britain, which was her last start prior to coming to the U.S.
Trained by Clement, Walk Close looks to return to her winning ways after running fourth in her 2015 debut, which came in the Santa Barbara Handicap (GII) at Santa Anita. The homebred daughter of Tapit last found the winner’s circle in June of last year at Belmont Park in the Wild Applause Stakes. Walk Close will be ridden by jockey Corey Lanerie.
The field for the second division of the Keertana Stakes, from the rail out (with jockey): Walk Close (Corey Lanerie), Eastern Belle (GB) (Joe Rocco, Jr.), Galileo’s Moon (Ire) (Marcelino Pedroza), Always Kitten (Miguel Mena), Wicked Temper (Chris Landeros), Industrial Policy (Shaun Bridgmohan), Ceisteach (Ire) (Channing Hill), Nice Number (Jesus Castanon), Notte d’Oro (Brian Hernandez, Jr.), Antonia Autumn (James Graham), and Honey Lake (Jon Court).
WORK TAB- Robert Lutrell’s undefeated filly Promise Me Silver returned to the work tab Friday morning working a half-mile in :46.80 for trainer Bret Calhoun. This was the daughter of Silver City’s first work since her victory in the Eight Belles Stakes (GIII) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.

Also on the Friday morning work tab was Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice, seventh in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), who worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 for trainer Dale Romans.

Gunpowder Farm LLC’s Divisidero returned to the work tab as well, breezing a half-mile in :49 flat for trainer William “Buff” Bradley. This was the son of Kitten’s Joy’s first work since his victory in the American Turf Stakes (GII).
DOWN THE STRETCH – Nominations close Saturday for the $100,000 Aristides (GIII), the six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up scheduled for Saturday, May 30. … Family Adventure Day Presented by Kroger returns to Churchill Downs on Sunday for a Churchill Charlie birthday bash and bike helmet giveaway by Kosair  Children’s Hospital. General admission to Churchill Downs is $3 but wristbands that include admission are required to access Family Adventure Day activities. They can be purchased online at ChurchillDowns.com for $8 until 10:45 a.m. Sunday or $10 at the gate on the day of the event. One dollar of every ticket purchased will benefit Kosair Children’s Hospital through the Children’s Hospital Foundation. …Gary Palmisano will join Darren Rogers as co-host for Saturday’s “Inside Churchill Downs” on ESPN 680/105.7 from 10-11 a.m. Palmisano is subbing for Churchill Downs’ John Asher, who’ll be in Bowling Green, Ky. to attend his daughter Erin’s graduation ceremony from the honors college at Western Kentucky University. She graduates with a degree in international business.


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