Normandy Farm’s homebred Daddys Lil Darling was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite in a field of eight 3-year-old fillies entered Tuesday for Saturday’s 80th running of the $ 500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) at Keeneland.
The 1 1/16-mile main track test offers 170 points toward the $ 1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 5 at Churchill Downs with 100 points going to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third place and 10 points to fourth. The Oaks is limited to the top 14 point earners that pass the entry box, and currently the cut line is 11 points.
The Central Bank Ashland, one of two Grade 1 races Saturday, will go as the ninth race on the 11-race program with a 5:40 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.
Trained by two-time Central Bank Ashland winner Kenny McPeek, Daddys Lil Darling won the Pocahontas (G2) at Churchill Downs in September prior to finishing second in the Darley Alcibiades (G1) here, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and second in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill Downs to close 2016.
Robby Albarado will have the mount on Daddys Lil Darling for McPeek, who won in 2002 with Take Charge Lady and 2014 with dead-heat winner Rosalind. Daddys Lil Darling will break from post position six. Albarado is seeking his second Central Bank Ashland victory to go with the 2003 score on Elloluv.
“She doesn’t like to be way out there, so we’re in a good spot,” said Nancy Polk of Normandy Farm. “We like the post position, and she’s been training well so hopefully she’s going to be ready. She likes this track.”
Trainer Mark Casse will send out two starters in John Oxley’s Grade 1-winner Pretty City Dancer and Gary Barber’s graded stakes-placed Summer Luck.
Pretty City Dancer, dead-heat winner of the Spinaway (G1) to complete her 2-year-old campaign, comes into the Central Bank Ashland off a sixth-place finish in the Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Park on March 4.
Joel Rosario has the mount on Pretty City Dancer and will break from post position three as the 7-2 co-second choice.
Summer Luck enters the Central Bank Ashland off a fast-closing third-place finish in the Davona Dale. Fourth in the Forward Gal (G2) prior to that, Summer Luck debuted at Keeneland last fall with a runner-up effort before breaking her maiden at Churchill to close 2016.
Florent Geroux has the mount on Summer Luck and will break from post position five as the 4-1 co-fourth choice.
“They are excellent,” said Casse assistant David Carroll. “(Trainer) Mark (Casse) texted an OK sign to me. They both just came in to Keeneland a few days ago and looking from the outside I think both will improve going two turns for the first time. Summer Luck made her debut here last fall and ran well, and I know (jockey) Florent (Geroux) really likes her.”
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Elate is also 7-2 on the morning line.
Elate, who debuted with a 12½-length victory at Aqueduct in November, enters Saturday’s race off a third-place finish in the Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn Park on March 11. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who won the 2013 race with Emollient, Elate will be ridden by Jose Ortiz and break from position two.
“I like our spot,” said Claiborne’s Walker Hancock. “We’ll be saving ground going into the turn. That’s always a plus. I just hope we get out of the gate good. We kinda got slammed leaving the gate in Arkansas (in the Honeybee-G3 on March 11) and kinda threw her off her game. She didn’t really get into the race until the end when it was too late. I hope she breaks well and we’ll be in a good spot.”
Invading from California is LNJ Foxwoods’ Tapped.
Listed at 4-1 on the morning line, Tapped enters Saturday’s race off a runner-up finish in the California Oaks at Golden Gate on an all-weather track on Feb. 11. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Tapped will break from post position eight and be ridden by David Flores.
The field for the Central Bank Ashland, with riders and morning-line odds, from the rail out is: Someday Soon (Jose Lezcano, 15-1), Elate (Ortiz, 7-2), Pretty City Dancer (Rosario, 7-2), Meanie Irenie (Julien Leparoux, 30-1), Summer Luck (Geroux, 4-1), Daddys Lil Darling (Albarado, 5-2), Sailor’s Valentine (Corey Lanerie, 12-1) and Tapped (Flores, 4-1). All starters will carry 121 pounds.
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