Here's who's nominated for Keeneland's stakes-packed meet

Here's who's nominated for Keeneland's stakes-packed meet
Photo: Nedim Slijepcevic

E Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ four-time Keeneland stakes winner Rushing Fall and Peter Callahan’s multiple graded stakes winner Swiss Skydiver, the leading point earner on the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1), are among the noted horses nominated to the 10 stakes worth a total of $2,575,000 to be run during Keeneland’s five-day Summer Meet from July 8 to 12.

Rushing Fall and Swiss Skydiver both are nominated to stakes on July 11, when Keeneland will feature six graded stakes. Rushing Fall is nominated to the $350,000 Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1), which she won last year, while Swiss Skydiver is nominated to both the $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1).

The Summer Meet, which accommodates a portion of the 16-day Spring Meet that Keeneland canceled because the COVID-19 outbreak, will be held without fans but with limited owners in attendance.

“Keeneland thanks the owners and trainers who nominated horses to the Summer Meet stakes and will be supporting our racing program during this historic five-day season,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “We also salute the exercise riders, grooms, hot walkers and others in the stable area who have reported to work every day since the pandemic began to continue caring for these horses.

"This season would not be possible without the hard work and cooperation of countless people and organizations along with the backing of Keeneland’s corporate partners.”

For 3-year-olds, the 96th running of the Toyota Blue Grass, held at 1 1/8 miles, and the 83rd running of the Central Bank Ashland, at 1 1/16 miles, are respective major preps for the Kentucky Derby (G1) on Sept. 5 and Kentucky Oaks on Sept. 4.

The Blue Grass and Ashland both carry 170 qualifying points for the Derby and Oaks on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the first four finishers.

Joining the Blue Grass, Ashland and Coolmore Jenny Wiley on July 11 are the $250,000 Madison (G1), $150,000 Appalachian (G2) and $150,000 Shakertown (G2).

Wagering that day will feature a $500,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Five and $500,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four.

Click here for the list of nominees to the Summer Meet stakes and their past performances. Here is a look at those nominations:

Friday, July 10 – Entries taken July 7

Maker’s Mark Mile (G1):

The 32nd running of the prestigious $300,000 turf race attracted 34 nominees, led by the first- and second-place finishers in the May 25 Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, Raging Bull and Next Shares.

Owned by Peter Brant and trained by Chad Brown, Raging Bull is a two-time Grade 1 winner who was fourth in last year’s Maker’s 46 Mile. Next Shares, winner of Keeneland’s Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) in 2018, is trained by Richard Baltas, who is part owner of the 7-year-old.

Gary Barber owns and Mark Casse trains two other nominees of note: Got Stormy, a multiple Grade 1-winning mare who has defeated males and was second in the 2019 TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) and third in Keeneland’s 2019 Coolmore Jenny Wiley, and 2019 Preakness (G1) winner War of Will.

Beaumont (G3)

The 35th running of the $100,000 race, which will be contested over the Beard Course of seven furlongs, 184 feet on the main track, carries 34 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks on a 20-8-4-2 scale for the top four finishers.

Leading the 27 nominees is Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Wicked Whisper. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Wicked Whisper won last fall’s Frizette (G1) at Belmont. She has not raced since finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita in November.

Saturday, July 11 – Entries taken July 8

Toyota Blue Grass (G2)

Among the 48 nominees is the aforementioned filly Swiss Skydiver.

Trained by two-time Toyota Blue Grass winner Kenny McPeek, Swiss Skydiver has won her past three starts, beginning with the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) and followed by the Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park and Santa Anita Oaks (G2).

Another accomplished runner is Jackpot Farm’s Basin, winner of the Runhappy Hopeful (G1) last summer at Saratoga. Trained by Asmussen, Basin finished second in a division of the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his most recent start.

Other nominees of note include Ete Indien and a quartet of runners from the stable of Bob Baffert.

Ete Indien, who won the Fountain of Youth (G2) and was third in the Florida Derby (G1), is trained by Patrick Biancone. He co-owns the colt in partnership with Linda Shanahan, Sanford Bacon, Dream With Me Stable, Horse France America and D P Racing.

Spendthrift Farm, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables’ Authentic, runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his most recent start, is one of the nominees for Baffert.

Other Baffert nominees include two-time graded stakes winner Thousand Words, who is owned by Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm, and two debut maiden winners: Uncle Chuck, owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Whitman; and Cezanne, owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and St. Elias Stable.

Central Bank Ashland (G1):

Swiss Skydiver leads the 30 nominees, which also include Grade 2 winners Bonny South, Tonalist’s Shape and Venetian Harbor.

Trained by Brad Cox and owned by Juddmonte Farms, Bonny South has won her past three races, including the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in her most recent start.

Tonalist’s Shape, winner of the Davona Dale (G2) and Forward Gal (G3) at Gulfstream in February, is trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. for owners Slam Dunk Racing, Doug Branham and Legacy Ranch.

Ciaglia Racing, Highland Yard, River Oak Farm and Dominic Savides’ Venetian Harbor won the Las Virgenes (G2) at Santa Anita. Trained by Richard Baltas, she was second to Swiss Skydiver in the Fantasy in her most recent start.

Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1):

Defending champion Rushing Fall heads a list of 22 fillies and mares nominated to the 1 1/16-mile turf race. Trained by Chad Brown, Rushing Fall has won four stakes at Keeneland, starting with the 2017 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3), 2018 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association and 2018 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End (G1).

With a win in the Coolmore Jenny Wiley, Rushing Fall would join champions Beholder and Lady Eli as the only horses to win Grade 1 races at age 2, 3, 4 and 5 since 1976.

Also nominated to the Coolmore Jenny Wiley is Brant’s champion Sistercharlie (IRE), a seven-time Grade 1 winner who captured the 2018 Jenny Wiley. Brown also trains Sistercharlie, who received the 2018 Eclipse Award as champion turf female.

Madison (G1):

Haruya Yoshida’s defending champion Spiced Perfection tops a roster of 23 fillies and mares nominated to the 7-furlong race on the main track. Now trained by Mark Casse, Spiced Perfection also won Keeneland’s Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) during the 2019 Fall Meet.

Other top sprinters nominated to the Madison are Grade 1 winners Guarana, owned by Three Chimneys Farm and Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings and trained by Brown, and Mia Mischief, owned by Stonestreet Stables and trained by Asmussen.

Appalachian (G2):

The race, for 3-year-old fillies going one mile on the turf, drew 29 nominees headlined by Robert and Lawana Low’s Sweet Melania.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Sweet Melania won last fall’s JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland and captured her 2020 debut in the Wonder Again (G3) at Belmont on June 20.

Shakertown (G2):

Bound for Nowhere leads a list of 36 nominees for the 24th running of the $150,000, 5 1/2-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and up. Wesley Ward trains Bound for Nowhere, who won the 2018 Shakertown and finished second in last year’s race.

Sunday, July 12 – Entries taken July 9

TVG Elkhorn (G2):

The 35th running of the $175,000 race, for 4-year-olds and up going 1 1/2 miles on the turf, drew 39 nominees. Leading them is Michael Hui’s $2 million earner Zulu Alpha.

Trained by Mike Maker, Zulu Alpha has won two of three starts in 2020 headlined by a triumph in the Pegasus World Turf Invitational (G1). Among his six graded stakes victories is the 2018 Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland.

Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3):

Topping the list of 30 nominees for 32nd running of the 1/16-mile turf test for 3-year-olds worth $100,000 is Three Diamond Farm’s Field Pass.

Maker also trains Field Pass, a three-time stakes winner who won the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) in March and the Audubon at Churchill Downs in his most recent start June 20.

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