KEENELAND-LOVING FLAMEAWAY READY FOR BEN ALI
John Oxley’s Flameaway has shown an affinity for Keeneland during his career, winning the Dixiana Bourbon (G3) on a sloppy track as a 2-year-old in 2017 and finishing second to Good Magic in last spring’s $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2).
On Saturday, he will try to add success in the Ben Ali (G3) to his local resume.
“He tailed off a little bit at the end of last year, but he came to us at the Fair Grounds (at the end of December) in great shape,” said David Carroll, who runs trainer Mark Casse’s Keeneland string and also oversaw the Fair Grounds contingent this winter. “We are very happy with him and he really blossomed here last spring.”
Winner of the Challenger at Tampa Bay on March 9 in his most recent start, Flameaway comes into the Ben Ali off two sharp works here: 5 furlongs in :59.80 on March 30 and a half-mile in :47.40 on April 6.
“Right now, we just want to get through Saturday with him,” Carroll said. “We will go race by race with him. There are so many races out there for him.”
Carroll also said Debby Oxley’s Chocolate Kisses, sixth in last Saturday’s Central Bank Ashland (G1), had her first day of training Thursday following the race.
“I think you can just draw a line through that race,” Carroll said of the Honeybee (G3) winner, who is considered likely to go on to the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 3. “We changed her style to keep her closer to the pace (in the Central Bank Ashland), and she was inside where she doesn’t want to be.”
CONSISTENT MORTICIA TAKES SECOND SHOT IN GIANT’S CAUSEWAY
- Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Morticia, winner of the Buffalo Trace Franklin County (G3) in 2017 as a 3-year-old, will shoot for her second Keeneland stakes score Saturday in the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway (L) going 5½ furlongs on the turf.
Trained by Rusty Arnold, Morticia finished third in the Giant’s Causeway last year after dueling early with champion Lady Aurelia.
“It was tough to give weight to Lady Aurelia, and it wound up costing us both,” Arnold said, noting that Triple Chelsea blew past both fillies to get the victory.
As in 2018, Morticia comes into the Giant’s Causeway off a runner-up finish in the Captiva Island at Gulfstream Park five weeks before her Keeneland race.
“She is doing well and just got beat in her comeback race (after a two-month layoff),” Arnold said. “She went a little too fast early with a :20 and change first quarter and just got caught at the wire.”
Co-bred by Arnold, Morticia has compiled a 18-7-5-4 record on turf in her career, which includes six stakes victories and earnings of more than $500,000. All of the stakes wins have come on firm ground.
“I’d rather it not rain at all for her, but I can’t control that,” Arnold said, alluding to a forecast that calls for rain Friday but a clear Saturday.
After last year’s race, Morticia ran in the Unbridled Sidney at Churchill Downs. However, this year’s running of the Unbridled Sidney is May 2, 10 days earlier than in 2018.
“The race at Churchill is too close,” Arnold said. “The race Preakness Day (May 18) is a possibility (the $100,000 The Very One). I am looking at one spot before Saratoga where there are two stakes, one early (the Caress) and one late (the Smart N Fancy).”
GROUPIE DOLL’S DAUGHTER DOLL COLLECTION DEBUTS HERE FRIDAY
In the early part of this decade, few sprinters were the equal of Groupie Doll.
Trained by Buff Bradley, Groupie Doll won the Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter in 2012 and 2013, the same years she won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1). At Keeneland in 2012, Groupie Doll won the Madison (G1) and the Thoroughbred Club of America (G2).
On Friday, her second foal, Doll Collection, will make her debut in the 10th race, a 6-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies. The daughter of Tapit will race in the colors of breeder Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm, who purchased Groupie Doll for $3.1 million at Keeneland’s 2013 November Breeding Stock Sale.
“Mandy has a house here, and she likes to run at Keeneland,” said trainer Ralph Nicks, who has had Doll Collection on a steady work pattern at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida. “We try to pick one that’s good enough to bring here, and we think she’s good.”
Doll Collection arrived at Keeneland Tuesday with Nicks scheduled to follow this afternoon or Friday morning.
“She is doing real good and has breezed well,” Nicks said. “I don’t know if she is a star, but she’s got talent.”
JOCKEYS DISCUSS MOUNTS IN MAKER’S 46 MILE
Keeneland Racing Analyst Tom Leach talked to these jockeys about horses they will ride in Friday’s $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1):
Joel Rosario on Raging Bull (FR).
James Graham on Great Wide Open (IRE).
Two trainers recorded their first Keeneland victories Wednesday.
Marat Kozhomzharov won the first race with Glockenburg’s Coworker. Miguel Mena rode the 3-year-old Goldencents colt, the 2-1 favorite, to win the 1 1/16-mile race by three-quarters of a length in 1:47.97.
Shelbe Ruis won the fourth race with Ruis Racing’s My Midnight Affair, ridden by Chris Landeros. The 4-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute won the 7-furlong race by 2½ lengths in 1:26.40 at 7-1 odds.
COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP DAY DRAWS BIG CROWD
A total of 2,584 college students registered to participate in the Spring Meet’s College Scholarship Day, one of Keeneland’s most popular special events, held April 5, the second day of the Spring Meet. They received free admission with a college ID and were eligible to win one of ten $1,000 scholarships and two $10,000 Runhappy Scholarships along with prizes from local vendors awarded after each of the day’s 10 races.
Runhappy Scholarships are made possible by Jim and Linda McIngvale, owners of champion Runhappy, who stands at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. The first Runhappy Scholarship was awarded during Keeneland’s 2016 Spring Meet.
One Runhappy Scholarship winner was Bradford “Brady” Baxter, who is pursuing a chemical engineering degree at the University of Kentucky. He was raised in nearby Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and grew up attending the races at Keeneland with family and friends.
“Keeneland has been a happy place for me for as long as I can remember,” Baxter said. “I have (my family) to thank some for showing me this great place from a young age – which put me in the position to receive this incredible gift. I plan to pursue an MBA upon graduation and get an industrial chemical engineering job after. However, no matter where that job may be, I will always come back twice a year for the Keeneland experience.”
The second Runhappy Scholarship was designated for someone who works in the Thoroughbred industry or whose parents work in the industry. The winner was Camille Smith, who is pursuing a double major in equine studies and equine business management at the College of Southern Idaho and is an intern at nearby Timber Town Stables through the Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) program.
“Having loved horses at an early age, my goal is to have a lifelong career working with horses,” Smith said. “All things equine are my passion.”
Winners of the $1,000 scholarships were Emily Cederlund, Shelby Clark, Kolby Faust, Paiton Garvin, Victoria Graves, Hanna Moriarty, Matthew Rhodes and Sarah Tran of the University of Kentucky and Bluegrass Community and Technical College students Ann Deaton and Caci Hisle.
Each racing season, Keeneland hosts College Scholarship Day in partnership with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. The event has distributed nearly $380,000 at Keeneland since it began during the 2002 Fall Meet.
UPCOMING STAKES PROBABLES
$100,000 HILLIARD LYONS-BAIRD DOUBLEDOGDARE (G3) (Entries taken Sunday, April 14; race Friday, April 19) – Blue Prize (ARG) (trainer Ignacio Correas IV), Electric Forest (Chad Brown), Moonlit Garden (Chris Davis) and Promise of Spring (Steve Margolis).Possible: Golden Award (Bill Mott) and Jala Jala (MEX) (Fausto Gutierrez).
$250,000 DIXIANA ELKHORN (G2) (Entries taken Wednesday, April 17: race Saturday, April 20) – Vettori Kin (BRZ) (Kenny McPeek) and Zulu Alpha (Mike Maker).
SPRING MEET SPECIAL EVENTS
Celebrating its 80th anniversary, the Keeneland Library is one of the world’s largest repositories of information related to the Thoroughbred. In its exhibit “Herbert Haseltine: The Gold Standard,” visitors will see two prominent works from the latter period of the acclaimed sculptor of the early 20th century: “The Thoroughbred Horse” and “Portrait of the Racehorse Tom Fool.” The exhibit “From the Vault: Jockeys” features 26 images dating from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century from the Library’s archive of more than 1 million negatives and photographic prints. Varied memorabilia from Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Arcaro, Ted Atkinson and Bill Shoemaker accompany the photographs. The Library is open weekdays at no charge from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Official Keeneland Tours – Keeneland offers a selection of year-round, guided racing and sales tours, including Behind-the-Scenes Racing Tours, Owner’s Experience Tours and Backstretch Tours with a Day at the Races. On Saturdays during Sunrise Trackside, free guided tours begin every 20 minutes from the welcome stand near the Paddock and Walking Ring from 7:30-10 a.m.
Friday, April 12
Maker’s Mark Bottle Signing – Sales of commemorative Maker’s Mark bottles have raised millions of dollars to benefit deserving causes in Central Kentucky. Fans can have their 2019 commemorative bottle signed at the Keeneland Entertainment Center beginning at 7 a.m. All tickets for the bottle signing have been distributed. One ticket entitles the holder to have two 2019 Maker’s Mark commemorative bottles signed. At Wagering Central, The Keeneland Shop will offer patrons the opportunity to dip their purchases into the iconic Maker’s Mark red wax to commemorate Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) race day.
The Hill – Fans who like to tailgate will enjoy the festive atmosphere of The Hill, where they can watch races on a jumbo TV and place wagers. The Hill also features food trucks, The Keeneland Shop kiosk and complimentary shuttles to the track. Live music is presented by The Burl, a popular live music venue in Lexington, from noon to 4 p.m. Two Maker’s Mark events will be held April 12. At the Makers Wanted experience from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., fans can enjoy a complimentary Bourbon Bung Iced Tea cocktail sample or Maker’s 46 neat sample featuring Kentucky Straight Ice along with hand stamping with leather craftsmen Clayton & Crume, a virtual reality bottle dipping game, barrel stamping and more.American Field, a curated marketplace of unique brands and items, also will be featured.
The Keeneland Shop Milliners Corner with Forme Millinery (April 12-14) and Trunk Show with Maui Jim (April 12-14).
$200,000 Friday Pick Four Presented by TVG. Includes races 7-10. Race 7 is the inaugural Limestone Turf Sprint (4:24 p.m. post time). Race 9 is the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) (5:30 p.m. post).
Saturday, April 13
Sunrise Trackside – The day begins early for racehorses. Keeneland invites you and your family to experience their mornings with Breakfast With the Works, which features breakfast for purchase and trackside commentary (7-8:30 a.m.) while horses train on the main track. The event includes children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7:30-9:30 a.m.); guided Keeneland tours that depart from the welcome stand near the Paddock (7:30-10 a.m.) and Paddock demonstration from the Kentucky Horseshoeing School (9-9:30 a.m). Parking and admission to the morning events are free.
Jockey Q&A with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the Walking Ring (12:05 p.m.).
The Hill – Fans who like to tailgate will enjoy the festive atmosphere of The Hill, where they can watch races on a jumbo TV and place wagers. The Hill also features food trucks, The Keeneland Shop kiosk and complimentary shuttles to the track. Live music is presented by The Burl, a popular live music venue in Lexington from noon to 4 p.m.
$300,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four Presented by TVG. Includes races 7-10: Ben Ali (G3), Giant’s Causeway (L), Stonestreet Lexington (G3) and Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1).
NYRA Cross Country Wager features the Stonestreet Lexington and Coolmore Jenny Wiley from Keeneland; Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1) from Oaklawn Park; and one stakes from Aqueduct.
$400 Spring Challenge – This handicapping tournament has a $400 buy-in with a live bankroll of $250 and $150 prize fund fee.
Sunday, April 14
Military Day at the Races Presented by Marathon – Keeneland recognizes the men and women who serve our country. All active and reserve military and their families will receive free general admission and access to reserved Grandstand seating with military I.D. Military families are invited to enjoy free food and children’s activities in the North Terrace from noon to 4 p.m.
Grade One Gamble – This nationally prominent event has a $3,000 buy-in and as many as six spots in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge and 10 spots in the NTRA National Horseplayers Championship up for grabs.
SPRING MEET LEADERS
Through April 10 (5 days of 16-day season)
|Brian Hernandez Jr.||28||3||4||4||$426,797|
|Juddmonte Farms (Khalid Abdullah)||2|
|LNJ Foxwoods (Larry, Nanci and Jaime Roth)||2|
|WinStar Farm (Kenny Troutt), China Horse Club
(Ah Khing Tao) and SF Racing (Gavin Murphy)