The Kentucky Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-olds has been the exclusive property of trainer Steve Asmussen for the past five years. Heiligbrodt Racing Stable's Merkel will attempt to run the string to six May 1, when he faces seven foes in the $150,000, five-furlong race. A son of Forest Wildcat, Merkel will break from the rail under Shaun Bridgmohan. Asmussen scored in this race with Posse (2002), Cuvee (2003), Lunarpal (2004), Datrick (2006), and Rated Fiesty (2007), with all but Cuvee being owned by Heiligbrodt.
Breaking like a rocket from the gate, Nicole's Dream shot to the early advantage and led all the way to win the $100,000 Mamzelle Stakes to kick off a deep and rich Kentucky Derby (gr. I) stakes weekend. The 5-year-old Florida-bred mare defended her title in the Mamzelle, having won the race last year by a nose.
The Derby/Oaks weekend of stakes competition at Churchill Downs kicks off on Thursday with the $100,000-added La Troienne (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies and the $100,000-added Mamzelle Stakes on the turf.
Dare to Dream Stable's Nicole's Dream, piloted by Robby Albarado, resisted Tangier Sound in a prolonged stretch battle to win the $117,700 Mamzelle Stakes for older fillies and mares Thursday at Churchill Downs.
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