Goodnight Olive was much the best in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint.. (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)
~ Eight stakes worth a combined $4.05 million will be run
~ Keeneland’s Rich Stakes on Opening Weekend of Spring Meet Attract Breeders’ Cup Winners Goodnight Olive, Caravel among Nominees
Keeneland Press Release
LEXINGTON, Ky.–Keeneland’s 2023 Spring Meet begins April 7 with two days of spectacular racing featuring eight stakes worth a combined $4.05 million, including the $600,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) on opening day and the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G1) the following day. Among the standouts nominated to other stakes are two winners from last fall’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland: champion Goodnight Olive and Caravel.
First post is 1 p.m. ET with the exception of Toyota Blue Grass Day on Saturday, April 8 when the first race is 12:30 p.m. Keeneland is closed for racing Easter Sunday, April 9.
FanDuel TV will present extensive live coverage of every Keeneland race. In addition, all races will be livestreamed at no charge on Keeneland.com, Keeneland Race Day App, Keeneland Select and Keeneland’s YouTube channel.
Central Bank Ashland tops opening day
For the second consecutive year, the Central Bank Ashland will be run opening day and headline three stakes for 3-year-olds on the 10-race card that begins at 1 p.m. The 1 1/16-mile Central Bank Ashland, which will be run for the 86th time, is the year’s first Grade 1 event for 3-year-old fillies and an important springtime target for the division’s most talented runners. The past two winners of the race, Nest and Malathaat, became champions.
The Central Bank Ashland, which attracted 90 nominees, offers 200 qualifying points on a 100-40-30-20-10 scale to the first- through fifth-place finishers toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 5 at Churchill Downs.
Other opening-day stakes are the 35th running of the $400,000 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3) going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf and the 75th running of the $400,000 Lafayette at 7 furlongs on the main track.
A total of 38 horses were nominated to the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania, including Nagirroc, who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) for trainer Graham Motion and the ownership group of Madaket Stables, Little Red Feather Racing and William Strauss. Another nominee is Susan Moulton’s homebred Andthewinneris, who is trained by Wayne Catalano and won last fall’s Castle & Key Bourbon (G2) at Keeneland.
Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s Cave Rock, a two-time Grade 1 winner and runner-up in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, tops a list of 39 nominees for the Lafayette. Bob Baffert trains Cave Rock.
Other nominees of note include Michele and Cliff Love’s Damon’s Mound, winner of the Saratoga Special (G2), trained by Michelle Lovell; Andrew and Rania Warren’s Raise Cain, winner of the Gotham (G3), trained by Ben Colebrook; and Spendthrift Farm and Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Victory Formation, winner of the Smarty Jones (L), trained by Brad Cox.
Entries for opening day will be taken Tuesday, April 4.
Toyota Blue Grass leads five stakes on April 8
For the first Saturday of the Spring Meet, Keeneland has carded 11 races, which will begin at 12:30 p.m. A total of 145 3-year-olds have been nominated to the 99th running of the 1 1/8-mile Toyota Blue Grass, including Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable’s Tapit Trice, winner of the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G3).
The Toyota Blue Grass is the ninth race with a 5:15 p.m. post. NBC will televise the race along with the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) and another Keeneland stakes from 4:30-6 p.m.
The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes offers 200 points on a 100-40-30-20-10 scale to the first- through fifth-place finishers toward the Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve to be run at Churchill on May 6.
Other April 8 stakes are the 22nd running of the $600,000 Madison (G1) for fillies and mares going 7 furlongs on the main track; 35th running of the $400,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on the turf; 27th running of the $350,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up racing 5½ furlongs on the grass and 36th running of the $300,000 Commonwealth (G3) for 4-year-olds and up at 7 furlongs on the main track.
First Row Partners and Team Hanley’s champion Goodnight Olive headlines 29 nominees to the Madison. Trained by Chad Brown, Goodnight Olive has won her past six races, including the Grade 1 Ballerina and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
Also nominated to the Madison are Grade 1 winners Chi Town Lady, owned by Castleton Lyons and trained by Wesley Ward; Matareya, owned by Godolphin and trained by Brad Cox; and Society, owned by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds and trained by Steve Asmussen.
Pleasant Passage and Cairo Consort, the second- and third-place finishers, respectively, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), headline the 39 fillies nominated to the Appalachian.
Owned by breeder Emory Hamilton and trained by Shug McGaughey, Pleasant Passage has won two of three races highlighted by a victory in the Miss Grillo (G2).
Cairo Consort, now owned by Repole Stable and Town and Country Racing and trained by Todd Pletcher, is a four-time winner. Topping her three stakes victories is a win in the Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Other nominees include recent Grade 3 turf winners Mission of Joy, trained by Graham Motion and owned by RyZan Sun Racing and Madaket Stables, and Danse Macabre, trained by Kelsey Danner and owned by NBS Stable and Elements Racing.
Caravel getting the victory in the BC Turf Sprint. (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)
Qatar Racing Limited, Marc Detampel and Madaket Stables’ Caravel, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) against males to close her 2022 campaign, tops a roster of 38 nominees to the Shakertown. Brad Cox trains Caravel.
Among other nominees are these graded stakes winners on turf: Lael Stables’ Arrest Me Red, trained by Wesley Ward; Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Big Invasion, trained by Christophe Clement; and Anthony Fanticola’s Motorious (GB), trained by Phil D’Amato.
The Commonwealth attracted 36 nominations headed by Mark D. Breen’s Endorsed. Trained by Mike Maker, Endorsed has won his past three races with the latter two coming in one-turn mile races at Gulfstream in the Fred W. Hooper (G3) Presented by Whispering Angel and WinStar Gulfstream Park Mile (G2).
Other nominees of note are 2023 graded stakes winners Eastern Bay (General George-G3), owned by Built Wright Stables and trained by Lynn Cash; Spirit of Makena (San Carlos-G3 Presented by FanDuel), owned by Bruce Chandler and trained by George Papaprodromou; and Tejano Twist (Whitmore-G3), owned by JD Thoroughbreds and Joey Keith Davis and trained by Chris Hartman.
Entries for the April 8 program will be taken Wednesday, April 5.
Keeneland’s Spring Meet will cover a total of 15 days through Friday, April 28. With no racing Easter Sunday, the season will resume Wednesday, April 12. First post for the remainder of the Spring Meet is 1 p.m.
No racing is held Mondays and Tuesdays.