Keeneland Opens With Transylvania
Some of the 3-year-olds entered in the $150,000 Central Bank Transylvania (gr. IIIT) made brief stops on the Triple Crown trail and are now switching gears. Others began their careers on dirt but have recently found success on turf. Whatever the individual case may be, it has made for an interesting field of eight in Keeneland's feature race April 3, which is opening day of the Lexington racetrack's 15-day spring meet.
Though there are no graded stakes winners in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, several have tested the waters. Stormalory, one of two Darley horses in the field, may be in the best position to break through based on his effort in the nine-furlong Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 14 at Gulfstream when finishing third by a length. In his turf debut the month before, Stormalory scored by 1 3/4 lengths in a two-turn allowance test as the odds-on favorite.
A son of Storm Cat trained by Bill Mott, Stormalory broke his maiden on the Keenaland Polytrack last fall and was sent to the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Downs where he finished fifth. Julien Leparoux, aboard for the allowance win in February, will get the mount and they will break from post 8. Mott has won the Transylvania three times in his career and is second on the all-time Keeneland wins list with 214.
Darley has also entered Japanese-bred colt Florentino, who has won two of three starts since switching to grass for Kiaran McLauglin. The Swept Overboard colt went wire-to-wire in his last effort, a one-mile allowance race on the Gulfstream Park turf March 1. His only loss was to Stormalory Feb. 5 when finishing runner-up by less than two lengths. Florentino was bought for more than $1.2 million in Japan as a weanling. Alan Garcia will ride.
Heiligbrodt Racing’s Skipadate has seen the most blacktype action and was the closest to scoring a graded stakes victory. The Mark Casse trainee missed by only a neck in the Summer Stakes (Can-IIIT) last fall at Woodbine, and was then placed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita where he ran a disappointing 11th.
Skipadate tried dirt for the first time in the Delta Jackpot (gr. III) in December but didn’t fire, and in his 3-year-old debut finished a well-beaten fifth in the OBS Championship on Polytrack. Though he has not been in top form of late, the gray/roan son of Skip Away turned in a bullet work at Keeneland March 27, getting five furlongs in 1:01.20. Skipadate drew the rail and will get Shaun Bridgmohan.
A pair of California shippers who once had minor Kentucky Derby (gr. I) hopes will try the Transylvania. George Strawbridge Jr.’s homebred Smart Bid broke his maiden at Philadelphia Park in December and won a first-level allowance on turf in his sophomore debut at Santa Anita before Graham Motion upped the ante. Motion put Smart Bid in the Feb. 28 Sham (gr. III) on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride, and the Smart Strike colt stayed close for six furlongs before finishing sixth to The Pamplemousse .
Edgar Prado will ride Smart Bid for the first time.
Also coming in from the West Coast is Irish-bred Oil Man. The bay colt began his career racing in England where he won once in four starts. Since moving into the barn of John Sadler, Oil Man placed fourth in Santa Anita’s Eddie Logan on the turf and was nearly seven lengths in back of Pioneerof the Nile in the Feb. 7 Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) on the Pro-Ride. Last out, Oil Man returned to the turf and finished fourth in a Feb. 22 allowance race.
The other horse with graded stakes experience is Orthodox, who set the pace for a half-mile, but finished next-to-last in the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) March 21 on Turfway Park's Polytrack surface. Owned, bred, and trained by John Glenney, Orthodox has won two of his three lifetime turf starts, his lone setback coming in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf when finishing seventh.
$150,000 Transylvania (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 5:05 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
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