Friday, April 05, 2002

Keeneland to feature 19 stakes races

3-year-old rivals expected to meet again

The Associated Press

Booklet (6), with Jorge Chavez aboard, moves ahead of Harlan's Holiday with Tony D'Amico to win the $200,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Feb. 16.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        LEXINGTON — The air is losing some of its brisk winter chill, the grass is beginning to turn green and the warm, rich aroma of steaming burgoo overcomes anyone who ventures within its reach. It must be time for racing at Keeneland.

        Keeneland will open its 16-day spring meet today with the first of 19 stakes races worth more than $3.6 million.

        The program will include many of the nation's top 3-year-old thoroughbreds competing in three significant Kentucky Derby-weekend prep races.

        The track will offer live racing Wednesday through Sunday through April 26, with post time each day at 1:15 p.m.

        Booklet and Harlan's Holiday are expected to renew their intense rivalry April 13 in the $750,000 Grade I Blue Grass Stakes, long considered a 1-mile steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby. John Oxley's Booklet, trained by John T. Ward, captured the Grade I Fountain of Youth and Grade III Holy Bull Stakes, beating Harlan's Holiday by less than a length each time.

Keeneland stakes races
   A list of the 19 stakes races to be run this spring:
   April 5 — Transylvania, $100,000 guaranteed, 3-year-olds, 1 mile (turf).
   April 6 — Grade I Ashland, $500,000-added, 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles.
   April 7 — Grade III Lafayette, $100,000-added, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs.
   April 10 — Madison, $100,000-added, 4-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 7 furlongs.
   April 11 — Grade III Jenny Wiley, $100,000-added, 4-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles (turf).
   April 12 — Grade II Maker's Mark Mile, $200,000 guaranteed, 4-year-olds and up, 1mile (turf).
   April 13 — Grade I Blue Grass, $750,000 guaranteed, 3-year-olds, 1 miles.
   April 13 — Shakertown, $75,000-added, 3-year-olds and up, 5 1/2 furlongs.
   April 14 — Grade II Commonwealth Breeders' Cup, $250,000-added, 3-year-olds and up, 7 furlongs.
   April 17 — Forerunner, $100,000-added, 3-year-olds, 1 miles (turf).
   April 18 — Doubledogdare, $100,000-added, 4-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles.
   April 19 — Appalachian, $100,000-added, 3-year-old fillies, 1 mile (turf).
   April 20 — Grade II Lexington, $325,000-added, 3-year-olds 1 1/16 miles.
   April 20 — Stravinsky, $75,000-added, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 5 1/2 furlongs (turf).
   April 21 — Grade III Ben Ali, $100,000-added, 4-year-olds and up; 1 miles.
   April 24 — Grade III Elkhorn, $150,000-guaranteed, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/2 miles (turf).
   April 25 — Grade III Bewitch, $100,000-added 4-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/2 miles (turf).
   April 26 — Grade I Royal Chase for Sport of Kings, $175,000-added, 4-year-olds and up, 2 1/2 miles (national fences).
   April 26 — Grade II Beaumont, $250,000 guaranteed, 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs, 184 feet.
        Harlan's Holiday, trained by Ken McPeek, rebounded with a gate-to-wire victory in the $1 million Grade I Florida Derby last month, while Booklet faded to finish a disappointing fourth.

        One of the final Derby preps of the season will take place the following weekend — with the running of the $325,000-added Grade II Lexington Stakes. Charismatic won the 11/16-mile Lexington in 1999 en route to a stunning victory in the Kentucky Derby.

        The first major prep race of the meet will take place Saturday as a host of talented 3-year-old fillies compete in the $500,000 Grade I Ashland Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile tuneup for the Kentucky Oaks.

        East Coast favorites Take Charge Lady and Belterra are expected to top the eight-horse field for the Ashland, which was named for the Lexington homestead and breeding farm of Kentucky statesman Henry Clay.

        Take Charge Lady, also trained by McPeek, easily won the Fair Grounds Oaks earlier this year and beat Never Out by a length on the Keeneland dirt last year to claim the $400,000 Alcibiades.

        Golden Rod winner Belterra, trained by Carl Nafzger, was undefeated as a 2-year-old but fell in her 3-year-old debut to Dust Me Off in the Miss Bonnie Stakes.

        The Ashland field from the rail out will be Colonial Glitter, First Again, Take the Cake, Whiletheiron'shot, Take Charge Lady, Bronze Autumn, Cordoba and Belterra.

        The $100,000 Grade III Lafayette Stakes, a 7-furlong race for 3-year-olds, will be run Sunday.

        At least one stakes race with a purse of $100,000 or more will be run on each day of the meet. Twelve of the stakes are graded and nine will be run on the turf.

        “While the Keeneland spring meeting is an ideal path to the Kentucky Derby and the triple crown for 3-year-olds, it also provides a variety of stakes opportunities for all divisions — on the dirt and the turf,” said Rogers Beasley, Keeneland's director of racing.


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