Weekend Lineup Presented By Sky Racing World: Keeneland Opens, Trio Of 100-Point Derby Preps - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Weekend Lineup Presented By Sky Racing World: Keeneland Opens, Trio Of 100-Point Derby Preps


One month remains until Kentucky Derby Week at Churchill Downs and there are only four remaining opportunities for horses to qualify for the $3 million Kentucky Derby. Three of those races will be run Saturday: the $1 million Blue Grass (G1), the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1); and the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2). All three races will award 100 points to the winning horse and a qualifying spot in the starting gate for the “Run for the Roses.”

The top 3-year-old contenders expected to run this weekend include: Tapit Trice (Blue Grass), Verifying (Blue Grass), Practical Move (Santa Anita Derby), National Treasure (Santa Anita Derby), and Hit Show (Wood Memorial).

Keeneland's 2023 Spring Meet opens on Friday with the top race on the card the Grade 1 Ashland, a 100-point prep for the Kentucky Oaks featuring 2022 Champion Wonder Wheel. Two undercard stakes support the main feature, the Lafayette and the Transylvania.

Beyond the three Derby preps, two Grade 1 races will feature on Saturday: the G1 Madison for female sprinters at Keeneland, featuring the return of Breeders' Cup winner Goodnight Olive, and the G1 Carter for sprinters at Aqueduct, featuring the streaking Repo Rocks.

Other significant stakes action around the country on Saturday includes: the G3 Gazelle (Oaks prep) and G3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct; the G3 Commonwealth, G2 Appalachian, and G2 Shakertown at Keeneland; the Arkansas-bred Rainbow and Rainbow Miss Stakes at Oaklawn; and the Evening Jewel, G2 Charles Whittingham, Echo Eddie, G3 Monrovia, and G2 Santa Anita Oaks (Oaks prep) at Santa Anita.

Meanwhile, south of the equator, Australian racing's equivalent of the Breeders' Cup concludes this Friday night, as Day 2 of “The Championships at Randwick” features a hotly anticipated clash of hemispheres between Australia's best racehorse, Anamoe, and English raider, Dubai Honour. The AU$5 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Race 8) has echoes of the epic battles between English warrior, Addeybb, and Australian Horse of the Year, Verry Elleegant, who crossed swords four memorable times in 2020 and '21. This year, Dubai Honour has seamlessly adopted the role of Addeybb, with the same English trainer-jockey combination of William Haggas and Tom Marquand. And Anamoe will inevitably be voted Horse of the Year for the current Australian season.


5:16 p.m. – Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland

Champion Wonder Wheel headlines a field of seven 3-year-old fillies entered for the 86th running of the $600,000 Ashland. Trained by Mark Casse, Wonder Wheel is perfect in two Keeneland starts with victories in the Alcibiades (G1) and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last fall. She has compiled a career mark of 6-4-2-0 and in her lone start of 2023 finished second in the Suncoast (L) at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 11. Tyler Gaffalione, who has been aboard for all of Wonder Wheel's starts, has the mount Friday and will exit post position two.

Todd Pletcher brings Malathaat's full sister Julia Shining into this year's renewal. Julia Shining comes into the Central Bank Ashland off a third-place finish in the Suncoast in which she was 1¼ lengths behind Wonder Wheel. Luis Saez, who has been aboard Julia Shining in all of her starts including the victory in the Demoiselle (G2), has the call Friday and will depart post position four.

Also coming from Florida is Guns n' Graces for trainer Chad Brown. Guns n' Graces finished second in the Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Park on March 4 in her stakes debut. Joel Rosario has the mount from post position three.

Coming from California is West Coast Stable's Pride of the Nile, trained by Doug O'Neill. A two-time winner on grass as a 2-year-old, Pride of the Nile was runner-up in the Starlet (G1) and the Las Virgenes (G3) before finishing fifth in the Santa Ysabel (G3) in her most recent start on March 5 at Santa Anita. Frankie Dettori has the mount on Pride of the Nile from post position one.

Ashland Entries


4:00 p.m. – Grade 1 Madison Stakes at Keeneland

Champion Goodnight Olive headlines a field of five fillies and mares entered for Saturday's Madison going 7 furlongs on the main track at Keeneland. Trained by Chad Brown, Goodnight Olive capped off an Eclipse Award-winning campaign here last fall when she won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) to clinch divisional honors as the champion female sprinter.

A winner of her past six starts, Goodnight Olive will be partnered Saturday by regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. and break from post position two.

Another Madison entrant riding a long win streak is Maryquitecontrary. Trained by Shug McGaughey, Maryquitecontrary has won her past five starts with the most recent coming in the Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28. Luca Panici has the mount and will break from post position five.

Madison Entries

4:19 p.m. – Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct

With the scratch of White Abarrio, the Carter is likely to feature a prohibitive favorite in Repo Rocks. Undefeated since joining the barn of trainer Jamie Ness, taking the 6 1/2-furlong Let's Give Thanks in November and six-furlong Blitzen on January 4 at Parx ahead of an 8 1/2-length score in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Toboggan on January 28 at the Big A that garnered a 111 Beyer Speed Figure.

Last out, he was a strong 3 1/4-length winner of the one-mile Stymie on February 25 to notch his first score beyond seven furlongs. Repo Rocks carried a field-high 124 pounds in the Stymie, overcoming a troubled trip under regular rider Andrew Wolfsont where he was boxed in behind rivals in third position before finding a way out late in the turn to best Grade 1-placed Miles D.

Today's Flavor [post 1, Manny Franco, 117 pounds] brings a four-race win streak into his graded stakes debut for trainer George Weaver. Little Vic [post 5, Carlos Olivero, 120 pounds] enters from a stalking 1 1/2-length score over graded-stakes winner Runninsonofagun in the six-furlong Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap. Multiple graded-stakes placed Doppelganger [post 7, Jevian Toledo, 118 pounds] will look to secure his third successive win since transferring to trainer Brittany Russell.

Rounding out the field are the stakes-placed Bold Journey [post 2, Eric Cancel, 114 pounds] for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott; and two-time winner Expressman [post 3, Jose Ortiz, 117 pounds], who notched a 107 Beyer Speed Figure in a memorable debut in August at Saratoga Race Course for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.

Carter Entries

5:15 p.m. – Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland

Tapit Trice is the 5-2 morning line choice in a field of 11 3-year-olds entered for the 99th running of the $1 million Blue Grass (G1) at 1 1/8 miles. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Tapit Trice brings a three-race win streak into Saturday's race highlighted by a two-length victory as the 1-2 favorite in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) on March 11. Luis Saez, a Blue Grass winner with Brody's Cause in 2016 and Essential Quality in 2021, has the mount on Tapit Trice and will break from the rail.

The second choice on the morning line at 3-1 is Verifying. Trained by Brad Cox, Verifying is a winner of two of five starts and finished second to Blazing Sevens in the Champagne (G1). In his most recent start, Verifying was fourth in the Rebel (G2) that was run over a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 25. Tyler Gaffalione has the mount on Verifying and will break from post position three.

Gotham (G3) winner Raise Cain is the third choice on the morning line at 9-2. Trained by Ben Colebrook, Raise Cain won the Gotham by 7 ½ lengths in what was his graded stakes debut. Raise Cain, a maiden winner at Keeneland last fall, was third in the Bowman Mill and then runner-up in the Gun Runner at Fair Grounds to close his 2022 campaign. Joel Rosario has the mount on Raise Cain and will break from post 10.

Colebrook will send out a second runner in Scoobie Quando (15-1). Scoobie Quando was runner-up in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park on March 4 in his most recent start. Luan Machado has the mount on Scoobie Quando and will exit post position six.

The fourth choice at 6-1 on the morning line is Blazing Sevens. Trained by Chad Brown, Blazing Sevens won the Champagne last fall and completed his 2022 campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). Blazing Sevens finished eighth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) in his lone 2022 start. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount Saturday and will break from post position eight.

Leading the Ken McPeek contingent is Sun Thunder (10-1), who enters Saturday's race off a fifth-place finish in the March 25 Twinspires Louisiana Derby (G2). McPeek also will send out Hayes Strike (15-1), a two-time graded-stakes placed runner entering off a victory in the Private Terms at Laurel on March 18. McPeek's third is Mendelssohns March (20-1), who will be making his stakes debut. Undefeated in two starts, Mendelssohns March will break from post position 11 and be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr.

Blue Grass Entries

5:43 p.m. – Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita

Multiple Grade 2 winner Practical Move headlines a field of nine of California's top 3-year-olds in Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1). Practical Move has been one of the top 3-year-olds in Southern California since December when he won the $200,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). Trained by Tim Yakteen, Practical Move made his seasonal debut in the $400,000 San Felipe (G2) where he finished 2 ½ lengths better than fellow Santa Anita Derby entrant Geaux Rocket Ride. Jockey Ramon Vazquez rides from post No. 5.

Yakteen will also send out former Baffert trainee National Treasure, third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last fall but third in the G3 Sham in his only start as a 3-year-old. John Velazquez has the mount.

Geaux Rocket Ride will attempt to avenge his last race defeat from Practical Move in the Santa Anita Derby. Trained by Richard Mandella, Geaux Rocket Ride was an impressive 5 ¾-length winner on debut at Santa Anita and made his first start around two-turns in the San Felipe. Flavien Prat will have the mount from post 3.

Santa Anita Derby Entries

6:16 p.m. – Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct

Hit Show, the winner of the Feb. 11 Withers Stakes (Grade 3), will return to Aqueduct and headline a field of 13 for Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2). Hit Show, trained by Brad Cox, jumped onto the Road to the Kentucky Derby scene with his 5 ½-length score in the Withers. Following that race, Cox opted to keep Hit Show based at Fair Grounds and train towards the Wood Memorial. At the end of March, Cox shipped Hit Show to Keeneland where he worked on March 31 in company with Blue Grass Stakes (G1) entrant Verifying and cruised five furlongs in :59.40. Jockey Manny Franco will have the return mount from post No. 13.

Drawn at the opposite side of the starting gate is Dreamlike. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Dreamlike is still a maiden but is expected to garner serious attention in the Wood as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line odds. Dreamlike finished second to Arthur's Ride on debut at Gulfstream Park and recently finished a close second to Empirestrikesfast. The well-bred son of Gun Runner will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.

Pletcher entered three horses in the Wood Memorial. His other two are maiden Crupi and recent allowance winner Classic Catch.

The ultra-consistent Arctic Arrogance is scheduled to return in the Wood Memorial and his trainer Linda Rice has opted to remove blinkers for this start. Arctic Arrogance has finished second in his last three starts in the Remsen (G2), Jerome and Withers. The son of Frosted was originally planning a start in the Gotham but a minor illness forced him to miss the race. Arctic Arrogance will exit post 7 with jockey Jose Lezcano.

Wood Memorial Entries

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