A well-matched group of nine 3-year-olds were entered for the $100,000 Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT), the featured race on opening day of the Keeneland Spring Meet April 2 in Lexington.
The Transylvania, a 1 1/16-mile turf race, is the ninth of 10 races on the Keeneland card. Post time is slated for 5:05 p.m. EDT.
There are four stakes winners in the field, led by Strike the Tiger, who is co-owned and trained by Wesley Ward. The son of Tiger Ridge became the first American-trained horse to win a race at Royal Ascot when he took the Windsor Castle Stakes last summer under jockey John Velazquez. The following month he returned to the U.S. to win the Chenery Stakes on the Colonial Downs grass.
Velazquez was back aboard Strike the Tiger when he made his 3-year-old debut, a runner-up effort in a Gulfstream Park starter allowance on Feb. 26 and he will have the call again when they break from post 4. The dark bay colt was bred in California by Ward, Mitchell Dutko, and Ray Sainz. He is out of the In Excess mare R Lucky Strike.
Ammerland Stud’s Nordic Truce will carry top weight of 123 pounds off his victory in the Jan. 16 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream when he defeated Bim Bam by a neck and Call Shot, who is also entered in the Transylvania, by one length. Christophe Clement trains lightly-raced Nordic Truce, a son of Yes It's True who is undefeated in two starts. Julien Leparoux will keep the mount on the homebred.
Zayat Stables’ Macias is a three-time stakes winner in California, two of those coming on the Santa Anita turf course. Trained by Bob Baffert, the Purge colt won the Eddie Logan Stakes in December and made a winning 2010 debut in the 6 1/2-furlong Baffle Stakes Feb. 13.
In his most recent start, Macias set the pace in the March 6 Pasadena Stakes over the same course, but was caught in the stretch by Make Music for Me in a one-length defeat. Jockey Alan Garcia will have the ride for the first time.
The other back-type winner is Michael Bruder and Frank Jones Jr.’s Lost Aptitude. The Dale Romans trainee won three of five starts as a juvenile, including the Grand Canyon Stakes on the Churchill Downs turf last fall. He missed by a head in the grade III Tropical Park Derby at Calder Race Course in his 2010 debut, then finished last in the Feb. 20 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) in his first start on dirt. Jockey Robbie Albarado will be in the irons.
Romans will also saddle Guys Reward, who is winless in his last seven starts but was beaten less than two lengths when finishing fifth in the Dania Beach.
$100,000 Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 5:05 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Call Shot (KY), C S Nakatani, 117, W M Catalano
2. Nordic Truce (KY), J R Leparoux, 123, C Clement
3. Celtic New Year (KY), V Lebron, 117, C Peery
4. Strike the Tiger (CA), J R Velazquez, 117, W A Ward
5. King Ledley (KY), R Maragh, 117, D Miller
6. Lost Aptitude (KY), Albarado, 119, D L Romans
7. Macias (KY), A Garcia, 117, B Baffert
8. Alfarabi (KY), K J Desormeaux, 119, E G Harty
9. Guys Reward (KY), J Castellano, 117, D L Romans