By Amy Owens —-
Keeneland’s 15-day Spring Meet runs through Friday, April 28, with racing
on Wednesdays through Sundays. Post time for the first race each day is 1:05 p.m. ET
• ITSINTHEPOST (FR) HEADS FIELD OF 11 FOR SATURDAY’S DIXIANA ELKHORN
• WICKED LICK IN HOLDING PATTERN FOR KENTUCKY OAKS
• INTERPOL BACK ON THE BEAT IN DIXIANA ELKHORN AFTER LONG LAYOFF
• KEENELAND VETERANS UNDRAFTED, PABLO DEL MONTE RETURN
• DIXIANA PRESENTS BEST TURNED OUT AWARDS SATURDAY
• GALLOPING OUT
• SPRING MEET SPECIAL EVENTS
• SPRING MEET LEADERS
ITSINTHEPOST (FR) HEADS FIELD OF 11 FOR SATURDAY’S DIXIANA ELKHORN
Red Baron’s Barn LLC’s Itsinthepost (FR), winner of the San Luis Rey (G2) at Santa Anita on March 25 in his most recent start, heads a field of 11 entered Wednesday for Saturday’s 32nd running of the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) for 4-year-olds and up.
Run at 1½ miles on the grass, the Dixiana Elkhorn will go as the ninth race on Saturday’s 10-race program with a 5:30 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.
Trained by Jeff Mullins, Itsinthepost has enjoyed a stellar 2017 with runner-up finishes in the San Gabriel (G3) and San Marcos (G2) before the triumph in the San Luis Rey at a mile and a half.
Regular rider Tyler Baze has the mount on Itsinthepost and will break from post position four.
Trainer Mike Maker, who has won this race twice including last year with Da Big Hoss, will send out four runners, three of which are graded stakes winners and the fourth is multiple graded stakes- placed.
The most recent stakes winner among the trio is Three Diamonds Farm’s Bigger Picture. Winner of the John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3) at Sam Houston Race Park on Jan. 29, Bigger Picture is a two-time Grade 3 winner. In his most recent Keeneland start, Bigger Picture finished second in last fall’s Sycamore (G3) at the 1½-mile distance.
Jose Ortiz has the mount on Bigger Picture and will break from post position five.
The day before Bigger Picture’s victory in Houston, Michael Hui’s Taghleeb posted his initial graded stakes score by winning the W.L. McKnight Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Luis Saez will ride Taghleeb and break from post position eight.
Maker’s third graded stakes winner is Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Charming Kitten. Winner of the 2015 McKnight who is a career earner of $948,701, Charming Kitten will be ridden by Julien Leparoux and break from post position nine.
Completing the Maker contingent is Three Diamonds Farm’s Roman Approval. Joel Rosario has the mount and will break from post position 10.
The field for the Dixiana Elkhorn, from the inside, is: Interpol (Jose Lezcano, 118 pounds), Danish Dynaformer (Paco Lopez, 118), Red Rifle (Corey Lanerie, 118), Itsinthepost (FR) (Baze, 120), Bigger Picture (Ortiz, 118), Bullards Alley (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., 118), Grey Wizard (Joe Bravo, 118), Taghleeb (Saez, 118), Charming Kitten (Leparoux, 118), Roman Approval (Rosario, 118) and Chocolate Ride (Shaun Bridgmohan, 118).
WICKED LICK IN HOLDING PATTERN FOR KENTUCKY OAKS
The field for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) is limited to the top 14 point earners on the 30-race road to the May 5 race
The series that began last September is over. Sitting at No. 15 is Lee Mauberret’s homebred Wicked Lick, who is at Keeneland with trainer Brendan Walsh.
“We are training like she will get in the Oaks,” Walsh said Wednesday morning. “Somebody will come out. It seems like every year, somebody drops out.”
Wicked Lick picked up the last 40 points of her 49-point total with a runner-up finish in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) at April 1. That figure looked solid until Ever So Clever and Chanel’s Legacy ran 1-2 in the Fantasy (G3) on April 14 to leapfrog Wicked Lick and into the top 14.
“That was the worst possible scenario for us,” Walsh said.
Wicked Lick, who also picked up points with a runner-up finish in the Silverbulletday and a fourth-place finish in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds, began her career on turf.
“She is a big-framed filly that wanted two turns,” Walsh said. “I started her at Ellis (going a mile). Then she broke her maiden at Churchill and I tried her in the stakes (JPMorgan Chase Jessamine-G3) here last fall and I don’t think she liked the course that day.”
It has been all dirt since for the daughter of Maclean’s Music. After finishing fifth in a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs in November, Wicked Lick compiled a 4-0-3-0 mark going two turns at Fair Grounds.
“She never runs a bad race,” Walsh said of Wicked Lick, who is scheduled to have her first work since the Fair Grounds Oaks here this weekend.
INTERPOL BACK ON THE BEAT IN DIXIANA ELKHORN AFTER LONG LAYOFF
Last December, Florida bloodstock agent Rudy Delguidice called trainer James Toner and said he was sending him a horse.
“I was in California at the time and Jimmy called me and gave me the name Interpol,” said Tiffany Webb, who is overseeing Toner’s Keeneland string. “I looked him up and ‘Jiminy Christmas, he’s a Grade 1 winner.’ ”
That he is. Owned by JMJ Racing Stables, Interpol had a magical four-week run in the summer of 2015 at Woodbine in which he won the Sky Classic (G2) and the Northern Dancer (G1) for trainer Sid Attard. Those efforts earned him the 2015 Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion grass horse.
On Saturday, Interpol will start in the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) at 1½ miles on the turf.
Interpol finished 10th in the 2015 Canadian International (G1) and did not run again until more than 16 months later for Toner in the Canadian Turf (G3) at Gulfstream on March 4.
“Rudy had given us some information on him that he preferred to run long on the grass,” Webb said. “His last race was a mile, which is not ideal for him but we didn’t want to go a mile and a half off a long layoff.”
Interpol finished sixth in his return.
“We were going to go to Belmont with him, but in his last race, he ran the second biggest figure of his life so he is going in the right direction,” Webb said. “He is doing well and this is the perfect spot.”
The 6-year-old Ontario-bred horse has quickly become a barn favorite.
“He’s a cool horse and a real ham and he loves bananas,” Webb said. “He is very popular at Woodbine and in Canada.”
KEENELAND VETERANS UNDRAFTED, PABLO DEL MONTE RETURN
The career of Wes Welker and Sheep Pond Partners’ Undrafted includes wins in the 2015 Diamond Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot and in Keeneland’s 2016 Shakertown (G2), three starts in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and earnings of $1,300,813. On Friday, the Purim gelding, who is based at Keeneland with trainer Wesley Ward, will make his 7-year-old debut in the third race, a 5½-furlong allowance on the turf.
“We don’t need him as good as he ever was. We need him TO BE as good one time as he once was,” Ward said, echoing the sentiments of the Toby Keith song.
Undrafted, who has not raced since his eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in November, is the 120-pound high weight in Friday’s race and will be ridden by Joel Rosario. Ward is seeking a good performance from the gelding, who he said “probably has had more works on this course than all the horses combined.”
“We need for Joel to be a cool sitter and a go-getter,” he said. “Sit back here and come with a big run. Hopefully (Undrafted) does it like he did a year ago in the Shakertown.”
Thursday’s eighth race, a 6-furlong race for $32,000 claimers, will mark a reunion of sorts for Ward and Derrick Smith’s Pablo Del Monte, a 6-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding who finished third for Ward in the 2014 Toyota Blue Grass.
Ward bred Pablo Del Monte from his Bring the Heat mare One Hot Wish, who he sent out 10 years ago to set Keeneland’s 4½-furlong track record on Polytrack in her career debut. Pablo Del Monte opened his career at Keeneland in April 2013 and won in his second start that October. His 18 career races include the 2014 Preakness (G1) won by California Chrome.
In October 2015, Pablo Del Monte was claimed from Ward at Keeneland. The trainer kept his eye on the horse, claimed him back in June 2016 and will send him out for his first race since then.
Entering Wednesday’s competition, Ward is tied with Kiaran McLaughlin as the Spring Meet’s leading trainer with six wins each.
DIXIANA PRESENTS BEST TURNED OUT AWARDS SATURDAY
The featured event on Saturday is the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2). Dixiana Farm, which sponsors the race, will present $500 Best Turned Out Awards for three races throughout the day.
Judges who determine the winners of the Best Turned Out Awards like to see horses with shiny hair, flowing tails and tidy manes and grooms wearing neat clothing.
“The Best Turned Out Awards give Keeneland and our sponsors the opportunity to recognize the efforts of the grooms who work so hard with these horses every day,” Keeneland Sponsorship Director Bonnie Senft said.
On Monday, Racing Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas – Keeneland’s all-time leading trainer by victories with 290 – was joined by former assistants Mark Hennig, Mike Maker, Kiaran McLaughlin, Ron Moquett, Todd Pletcher, Dallas Stewart and George Weaver in a roast of Lukas during the Consignors & Commercial Breeders Association’s annual symposium at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion.
Click here for the video tribute to Lukas that was produced by Keeneland’s Broadcast Services and shown at the event. …
College Scholarship Day on April 7, opening day of Keeneland’s Spring Meet, attracted 2,129 students from 81 college and universities in Kentucky and beyond. Scholarship winners represented the University of Kentucky, Maysville Community & Technical College, Transylvania University and the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.
Keeneland hosts College Scholarship Day in partnership with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. The program began in October 2002 and has distributed more than $600,000 at tracks statewide, including more than $300,000 at Keeneland.
Keeneland also holds College Scholarship Day during the Fall Meet in October.
BEHIND THE SCENES: STAKES COORDINATOR TIFFANY BOURQUE
STILLS LOVES BEING AT THE TRACK
Keeneland Stakes Coordinator Tiffany Bourque
Some people never get tired of being at the races. Keeneland Stakes Coordinator Tiffany Bourque is one of those people.
As a youngster, she enjoyed many afternoons at various tracks with her mother, Mary, and five siblings. Part of the lure was seeing her father, jockey Kenny “Chopper” Bourque, win on a steady basis before he retired in 1999 with nearly 2,500 victories.
“Everywhere Daddy went, we went,” she said. “We did a lot of traveling. When we started living in just one place while my dad was out of town riding, I didn’t care for it that much. I preferred the traveling.”
She also was drawn to the Thoroughbreds her father rode at tracks in Louisiana, Illinois and Arkansas.
“I fell in love with racing by watching the horses but I never wanted to ride,” she said. “All through high school and college, my father kept telling me he did not want me working at the track. But I love the track”
Despite her father’s encouragement to avoid a racing career, Bourque accepted a string of entry-level jobs at assorted tracks before landing a Keeneland position in 2004. She was promoted to stakes coordinator last year.
In her role, she and Racing Secretary Ben Huffman stay updated on horses throughout the country that are suited to Keeneland’s upper-tier races. Bourque color-codes her lists to indicate what horses are most likely to race at Keeneland and transfers the data to her computer. Despite the ever-changing nature of entries, Bourque has much of her work memorized, especially for headliner races such as the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) that come with massive media coverage. As the liaison with the Keeneland Communications department, Bourque helps keep reporters updated on likely runners, which is key information for those planning stories for TV and other outlets.
As entry date nears for particular stakes races, trainers stay in touch with Bourque to see how the competition is stacking up so plans can be finalized.
If a race appears to be attracting only minimal entrants, Bourque encourages trainers to think about the race. The strategy can produce a happy surprise when a horse wins after not being originally considered for a race.
“It is always satisfying when a horse runs well after not being considered at first,” she said. “That makes my job exciting. But I never encourage a trainer to enter if I don’t think the horse has a good chance of winning. They have learned to trust me when I recommend that they enter.”
The ever-changing nature of her job means Bourque must stay apprised of which runners are best suited for Keeneland even before the racing season begins.
“I watch the races and I keep up with the horses,” she said. “It is something I enjoy.”
SPRING MEET SPECIAL EVENTS
Keeneland Library exhibit Images from the Keeneland Library Collections.” Exhibit features 16 shots of Man o’ War during his racing career and years at stud by Charles Christian Cook, Joseph Alvie Estes, Robert Lee McClure and Bert Clark Thayer. The Library is open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. During the 2017 Spring Meet, it also is open on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The Library’s online exhibit“Man o’ War: In Others’ Words” tells the story of Man o’ War’s life, accomplishments and influence through images from its collection that are accompanied by quotations from the horse’s connections, contemporary sports writers and modern biographers.
Wednesday, April 19
WINS-DAY Challenge. Place a mythical $2 win and place wager on Keeneland Races 3-8. Entry fee is $10 with a guaranteed $2,500 pool. Limit three entries per person. The first 200 participants receive a free Daily Racing Form and an appetizer card from Malone’s. Visit Wagering Central to sign up.
Thursday, April 20
Official Keeneland Tour. Available Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in April at 8:30 a.m. ET. Clickhere for more information and to purchase tickets.
Friday, April 21
Official Keeneland Tour. Available Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in April at 8:30 a.m. ET. Clickhere for more information and to purchase tickets ($8 per person; 12 and younger free).
Behind-the-Scenes Racing Tour. For an insider’s view of Keeneland, Tour Guides will lead guests to the track’s behind-the-scenes areas such as the Jockeys Quarters, where some of the world’s leading riders prepare for their race day; to the barns, where the race day begins, to the track to see morning workouts and through the picturesque Keeneland Paddock. A limited number of dates and tickets ($25 per person) are available for this exclusive experience. The two-hour tour begins at 9 a.m. and is limited to 10 people. Click here for more information.
Keeneland Shop’s Milliners Corner presents Polly Singer Designs and Dorfman Pacific adjacent to the Walking Ring from 9 a.m. to the last race.
Tailgating on The Hill. Keeneland’s popular tailgate lot, located adjacent to the Keene Barn & Entertainment Center, features local food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, race-day programs, a Keeneland Shop kiosk and free shuttles to the track. BETologists will be available to answer fans’ questions.
Jockey Autograph Signing. Fans can buy items to have signed by retired and active jockeys from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. adjacent to the Paddock to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Among those scheduled to appear are two Hall of Famers: Keeneland’s all-time leading rider, Pat Day, winner of the 1992 Kentucky Derby (G1) with Lil E. Tee, and two-time Derby winner Chris McCarron; Jean Cruguet, who rode Seattle Slew to victory in the 1977 Triple Crown; Kaye Bell, Jamie Bruin, Carl Faulconer, Michael Heath, Mike Manganello, John Oldham, Suzie Oldham, J.R. Parsley, Craig Perret and Kaoru Tsuchiya.
Saturday, April 22
Sunrise Trackside Keeneland shares a special side of Thoroughbred racing that is worth getting up early to enjoy. Sponsored by LEX18, Sunrise Trackside is a free, family-friendly event with activities for all ages: Breakfast With the Works features breakfast ($8) and trackside commentary (7-8:30 a.m.) while Thoroughbreds train on the main track; children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7-9 a.m.); Keeneland tours (7:30-10 a.m.); Paddock demonstration by the Lexington Mounted Police Unit (9 a.m.); trackside handicapping seminar with Paddock Host Katie Gensler and racing analyst Tom Leach (11:30 a.m.); and Q&A session with a jockey in the Paddock (12:05 p.m.).
Keeneland Shop’s Milliners Corner presents Polly Singer Designs and Dorfman Pacific adjacent to the Walking Ring from 9 a.m. to the last race.
Tailgating on The Hill. Keeneland’s popular tailgate lot, located adjacent to the Keene Barn & Entertainment Center, features local food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, race-day programs, a Keeneland Shop kiosk and free shuttles to the track. One of Central Kentucky’s favorite bluegrass bands will perform from 12-4 p.m. BETologists will be available to answer fans’ questions.
Sunday, April 23
Keeneland Shop’s Milliners Corner presents Dorfman Pacific adjacent to the Walking Ring from 9 a.m. to the last race.
Military Day at the Races Presented by Marathon. All active-duty, reserve, veterans and military families receive free general admission with a military I.D., DD214, veteran I.D. or other form of Military I.D. at any pass gate. The Military Family Zone in the North Terrace will offer free food, live music and more from noon to 4 p.m. ET. In honor of Month of the Military Child, Keeneland will have activities for children throughout the day.
SPRING MEET LEADERS
Through April 15 (seven days of racing)
Jockey Starts Wins 2nd 3rd Purses
Joel Rosario 33 9 5 5 $908,481
Julien Leparoux 35 8 4 6 $1,007,614
Javier Castellano 19 7 1 2 $532,694
Corey Lanerie 31 5 7 3 $564,792
Jose Ortiz 36 4 5 5 $447,040
Trainer Starts Wins 2nd 3rd Purses
Kiaran McLaughlin 12 6 2 0 $525,460
Wesley Ward 25 6 3 4 $258,277
Chad Brown 13 5 3 2 $665,077
Mark Casse 23 5 3 2 $530,445
Godolphin Management Company (Mohammed al Maktoum, et al) 5
Juddmonte Farms Inc. (Khalid Abdullah) 4
Live Oak Plantation (Charlotte C. Weber) 2
Pike Place Racing II (Deuce Greathouse) and Homewrecker Racing LLC (Ricki and Ron Rashinski) 2
*Stonestreet Stables LLC (Barbara Banke) 2