Rich Stakes, BC Champs Featured on Opening Weekend at Keeneland 

March 29, 2022

10 stakes worth a combined $4.55 million will be run

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Five winners during the 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships – champion Ce Ce along with Aloha WestGolden PalTwilight Gleaming (IRE) and Pizza Bianca – are among the marquee names nominated to stakes to be run during the April 8-10 opening weekend of Keeneland’s 15-day Spring Meet. A total of 10 stakes – led by the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G1) – worth a combined $4.55 million are scheduled over the first three days.

First post is 1 p.m. ET with exception of Toyota Blue Grass Day on Saturday, April 9 and closing day, April 29, when the first race those days is 12:30 p.m.

TVG will present extensive livecoverage of every Keeneland race. Fans also can watch races live and at no charge on Keeneland.comKeeneland Race Day AppKeeneland Select and Keeneland’s YouTube channel.

No racing will be held Mondays and Tuesdays. Keeneland is closed for racing Easter Sunday, April 17.

Central Bank Ashland kicks off season

Three-year-olds will be in the spotlight April 8, highlighted by the 85th running of the $600,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) for fillies going a mile and a sixteenth on the main track. This year, Keeneland moved the prestigious race to opening day as a special kickoff to the Spring Meet.

The Central Bank Ashland, which attracted 101 nominees, offers 170 qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the first- through fourth-place finishers toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 6 at Churchill Downs. 

Other opening-day stakes are the 34th running of the $400,000 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3) going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf and the 74th running of the $400,000 Lafayette going 7 furlongs on the main track.

Magdalena Racing Lessee’s Tiz the Bomb, who won the Castle & Key Bourbon (G2) at Keeneland last fall before running second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), tops a roster of 38 nominees to the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania. Trained by Kenny McPeek, Tiz the Bomb also won the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile in his grass debut last year.

Among the other nominees to the race are two-time turf stakes winner Coinage, who is trained by Mark Casse for D. J. Stable and Chester and Mary Broman; Whisper Hill Farm’s Grand Sonata, winner of the Kitten’s Joy (G3) at Gulfstream for trainer Todd Pletcher; and Juddmonte’s undefeated Verbal, winner of the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) at Del Mar for trainer Chad Brown.

Robert and Lawana Low’s My Prankster, winner of the Claiborne Farm Swale (G3), and MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm’s Provocateur, winner of the Hutchison (L), top a list of 37 nominees for the Lafayette.

Both colts are trained by Todd Pletcher, who has six trainees nominated to the Lafayette. The group also includes Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable and Gainesway Stable’s Wit, winner of the Sanford (G3) and twice Grade 1-placed.

Entries for opening day will be taken Tuesday, April 5.

Toyota Blue Grass tops five graded stakes on April 9

The first Saturday of the Spring Meet presents an 11-race card that begins at 12:30 p.m. and is highlighted by the 98th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass. Keeneland will offer an All-Stakes Pick 4 and an All Stakes Pick 5 that day.

The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on the main track drew 131 nominees. The race offers 170 points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the first- through fourth-place finishers toward the Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) to be run at Churchill on May 7.

NBC will televise the Toyota Blue Grass along with the Wood Memorial (G2) Presented by Resorts World Casino from Aqueduct and Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) from 4:30-6 p.m. The Toyota Blue Grass is the ninth race with a 5:10 p.m. post.

Other stakes on April 9 are the 21st running of the $500,000 Madison (G1) for fillies and mares going 7 furlongs on the main track; 34th running of the $400,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association for 3-year-old fillies going a mile on the turf; 26thrunning of the $350,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up going 5½ furlongs on the grass and 35th running of the $300,000 Commonwealth (G3) for 4-year-olds and up going 7 furlongs on the main track.

Winner of the recent Azeri (G2) and earner of $2 million, Bo Hirsch’s Ce Ce headlines 24 nominees to the Madison. Trained by Michael McCarthy, Ce Ce is a three-time Grade 1 winner who was fifth in the 1 1/8-mile Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) in 2020 in her lone Keeneland start.

Ce Ce earned the 2021 Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter.

Also nominated to the Madison are two of the top finishers from the 2021 renewal: Westerberg Limited, Mrs. John Magnier, Jonathan Poulin, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Kimari and Lothenbach Stable’s Bell’s the One.

Kimari is undefeated in three Keeneland starts, prevailing by three-quarters of a length as the 3-5 favorite in last year’s Madison for trainer Wesley Ward. Bell’s the One, earner of more than $1.5 million and trained by Neil Pessin, has two Grade 2 wins at Keeneland, including last fall’s Thoroughbred Club of America. She finished in a dead heat for second in the 2021 Madison.

Bobby Flay’s homebred Pizza Bianca, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to close her 2021 campaign, headlines the roster of 29 fillies nominated to the Appalachian. Trained by Christophe Clement, Pizza Bianca has won two of her three career starts.

Among other nominees are four recent Grade 3 winners: Dolce Zel (FR), trained by Chad Brown and owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Robert LaPenta; Dubb and Madaket’s Ouraika (FR), trained by Graham Motion; Teneri Farm and J Stables’ Opalina, trained by Todd Pletcher; and Gainesway Stable’s Spendarella, trained by Motion.

In the Shakertown, two horses trained by Wesley Ward – two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Golden Pal and millionaire Bound for Nowhere – top the 33 nominees.

Owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Westerberg, Golden Pal won the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) at Keeneland in 2020 and last year won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Del Mar. In his only other Keeneland start, Golden Pal took last fall’s Woodford (G2) Presented by TVG as the 1-2 favorite.

Ward owns Bound for Nowhere, a two-time Shakertown winner. The 8-year-old won the 2018 Shakertown, ran second in 2019, was third in 2020 and won last year.

The Commonwealth attracted 43 nominations headed by Jackie’s Warrior, the champion male sprinter of 2021, and Aloha West, winner of the Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Del Mar.

Owned by Kirk and Judy Robison and trained by Steve Asmussen, Jackie’s Warrior is a seven-time graded stakes winner with three Grade 1 tallies coming in one-turn races.

Aloha West, who is trained by Wayne Catalano for owners Gary and Mary West, prevailed by a nose after a furious late run to claim his Breeders’ Cup victory. Prior to that, Aloha West was a fast-closing second in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland.

Entries for the April 9 card will be taken Wednesday, April 6. Keeneland will livestream the post position draw for the Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland.com and Keeneland’s YouTube channel at 12:15 p.m.

Sunday card features Beaumont

Opening weekend concludes Sunday, April 10 with two stakes.

The 37th running of the $400,000 Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select for 3-year-old fillies, attracted 29 nominations. The Beaumont offers 17 points as the final stop on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the first- through fourth-place finishers.

The Beaumont is run over the Beard Course of 7 furlongs and 184 feet. Nominees are headed by Albaugh Family Stables’ Juju’s Map. Trained by Brad Cox, Juju’s Map won last fall’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland before running second in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).

Stonestreet Stables’ Twilight Gleaming (IRE), winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) over males, heads a list of 26 3-year-olds nominated to the third running of the $200,000 Palisades (L) going 5½ furlongs on the grass.

Trained by Wesley Ward, Twilight Gleaming has compiled a 5-3-2-0 mark in her career. She also defeated males in a stakes at Deauville in France prior to her Breeders’ Cup victory.

Ward also trains Gregory Kaufman’s Kaufymaker, who finished third behind Twilight Gleaming in the Breeders’ Cup. Kaufymaker is one of five Ward-trained horses nominated to the Palisades.

Entries for the Sunday, April 10 program will be taken Thursday, April 7.

Click here for the 2022 Keeneland Spring Meet stakes schedule, which includes links to stakes nominees and their past performances.

Keeneland Press Release
Photos: Ce Ce winning the Chillingworth at Santa Anita (Benoit Photos); Golden Pal winning the Woodford at Keeneland (Coady Photography) 

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