Oscar Performance Highlights Keeneland’s Opening Weekend Stakes Nominations

Oscar Performance provided trainer Brian Lynch and jockey Jose Ortiz with their first Breeders’ Cup wins

Two Breeders’ Cup winners – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Oscar Performance and Mongolian Saturday, winner of the 2015 TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Keeneland – headline the list of horses nominated to five graded stakes that are part of seven stakes to be run during the April 7-9 opening weekend of Keeneland’s 2017 Spring Meet.

The 15-day season, from April 7-28, offers racing on Wednesdays through Sundays. Post time for the first race each day is 1:05 p.m. ET. Keeneland will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 16.

Highlighting opening weekend is the 93rd running of the $ 1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and the 80th running of the $ 500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), both on Saturday, April 8.

The opening-day feature is the 29th running of the $ 150,000 Transylvania (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Amerman Racing’s Oscar Performance, trained by Brian Lynch, is one of 39 horses nominated to the race. Winner of three of four career races, including the Pilgrim (G3), Oscar Performance has not started in 2017.

Also nominated to the Transylvania is Woodford Racing’s Ticonderoga, who was fourth to Oscar Performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Santa Anita. Trained by Chad Brown, Ticonderoga won his 2017 debut, the Palm Beach (G3) at Gulfstream Park on March 4.

The Toyota Blue Grass and the Central Bank Ashland anchor a blockbuster 11-race card on opening Saturday that features five stakes worth $ 2.25 million. Joining the Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland are the 16th running of the $ 300,000 Madison (G1) for older fillies and mares at 7 furlongs on the dirt; 21st running of the $ 200,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on turf; and the 31st running of the $ 250,000 Commonwealth (G3) for older horses at 7 furlongs on the dirt.

Topping the 20 nominations for the Madison are LNJ Foxwoods’ Constellation, winner of the 2016 La Brea (G1) at Santa Anita, and recent Grade 2 winners Distinta and High Ridge Road.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Constellation finished second to Madison nominee Pretty N Cool in the Las Flores (G3) at Santa Anita on March 5 in her most recent start.

Distinta, owned by Veb Racing Stable Corp. and trained by Victor Barboza Jr., won the Inisde Information at Gulfstream on March 18.

Martin Schwartz’s High Ridge Road, trained by Linda Rice, took the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel on Feb. 18 in her last outing.

The Shakertown attracted Mongolian Stable’s Mongolian Saturday as the headliner among 27 nominees.

Trained by Enebish Ganbat, Mongolian Saturday won last October’s Woodford (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select, the Keeneland Fall Meet equivalent of the Shakertown. In his other Keeneland start, which was prior to his Breeders’ Cup victory, Mongolian Saturday finished second in the 2015 Woodford.

Also among the nominees is defending champion Undrafted. Unraced since finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Undrafted could join Soaring Free (2004-2005) as back-to-back winners of the Shakertown. Wesley Ward trains Undrafted, who finished third in the 2015 Shakertown.

The Commonwealth attracted 32 nominations headed by Green Lantern Stables’ A. P. Indian.

Trained by Arnaud Delacour, A. P. Indian won two Grade 1 races in 2016 and also triumphed in Keeneland’s Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) before a third-place result in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in his most recent start.

Also nominated is Katherine Ball’s Limousine Liberal, Keeneland’s track-record holder at 6½ furlongs. Trained by Ben Colebrook, Limousine Liberal has not raced since being placed fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and prior to that finished a nose behind A. P. Indian in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix.

Completing the opening weekend stakes lineup on Sunday, April 9, is the 32nd running of the $ 150,000 Adena Springs Beaumont (G3) for 3-year-old fillies going 7 furlongs 184 feet on dirt.

The Adena Springs Beaumont is the final prep in Kentucky for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 5 at Churchill Downs. A total of 17 Kentucky Oaks points will be available in the race on a 10-4-2-1 scale for the top four finishers.

Headlining the list of 39 nominees is Dancing Rags, winner of last fall’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland.

Owned by Chadds Ford Stable and trained by Graham Motion, Dancing Rags has not raced since finishing eighth in last fall’s 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).

Also among the nominees are the dead-heat winners of the 2016 Spinaway (G1) at Saratoga: Sweet Loretta and Pretty City Dancer.

St. Elias Stable owns Sweet Loretta, who is trained by Todd Pletcher. Pretty City Dancer is owned by John Oxley and trained by Mark Casse.

Racing – Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

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