Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ homebred filly Kathmanblu, a stakes winner on grass and dirt, will attempt to transfer that form to Keeneland’s Polytrack surface April 9 when she headlines a field of nine 3-year-old fillies in the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (gr. I).
The Ashland, a major prep race for Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) hopefuls, will be contested at 1 1/16 miles, and will go as the ninth race on the 10-race card with an approximate post time of 5:23 p.m. EDT.
“(Kathmanblu) has been doing super. We left her down there (at Gulfstream Park) to finish her last work, and she’s flying into Lexington today,” said trainer Kenny McPeek, who won the 2002 Ashland with Take Charge Lady. Kathmanblu fired a bullet work at the South Florida track April 2 when she covered five furlongs in a swift :59 flat, and was the fastest of 18 horses at the distance.
Kathmanblu, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Bluegrass Cat out of the Devil’s Bag mare Abba Gold, enters the Ashland off a three-race win streak that began with an 81/2-length victory in the Golden Rod (gr. II) at Churchill Downs in November. The bay filly launched her sophomore campaign with a victory in the Sweetest Chant on yielding turf at Gulfstream in January, followed by a score in the Rachel Alexandra (gr. III) on dirt at Fair Grounds in February. Kathmanblu also won the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine at Keeneland on firm turf last year.
Alan Garcia will have the mount on Kathmanblu, who will break from post 6.
“We drew good—the 6 is a good spot, and she should be able to lay off the pace and make a run,” said McPeek. “We felt like a grade I under her belt was a big goal, and we were trying to find a spot, and it looked like the Ashland was ideal; it comes back into the Oaks and will be a good preparation. So we’re all pretty excited; she should run pretty well.”
Three other graded stakes winners are in the field, including John Oxley’s Dancinginherdreams.
Trained by John Ward, Dancinginherdreams broke her maiden by five lengths at Keeneland at first asking last fall, and then captured the Pocahontas (gr. II) at Churchill by 5 1/4 lengths. In two starts this year, Dancinginherdreams has run second at Gulfstream Park in the Jan. 31 Forward Gal (gr. II) and the Feb. 26 Davona Dale (gr. II).
“I’ve felt very good about her (since the Davona Dale),” said Ward of the filly, who finished 7 1/4 lengths in back of the winner R Heat Lightning.
The Ashland will mark the daughter of Tapit ’s first try at the 1 1/16-mile distance. “She’s not a sprinter; two turns is what we want to do,” said Ward, who had Dancinginherdreams skip the April 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) in order to give her more time in between races. “My filly is a little on the lighter side, so I don’t want to have to train her as hard now."
Bred in Kentucky by Nancy Shuford, Dancinginherdreams breezed four furlongs in :50.70 in her most recent work at Palm Meadows March 28 and was ranked 24 of 26 horses at that distance.
“You’ll see my works being a lot slower, because Dancinginherdreams is a take-charge lady,” said Ward. “She wants to go do her thing. So everything I do is to blow a little steam off the tank.”
Regular rider Julien Leparoux has the call on Dancinginherdreams, who will break from post 5.
Oxley also owns Delightful Mary, who enters the Ashland off a restricted stakes score at Ocala last month in her 2011 debut. Shaun Bridgmohan has the mount for trainer Mark Casse on Delightful Mary, who will break from post 4.
Trained by Steve Margolis, Bouquet Booth won the Delta Downs Princess (gr. III) last fall in Louisiana and, in her most recent start, was third behind Kathmanblu in the Rachel Alexandra. Robby Albarado has the mount on Bouquet Booth, who will break from the inside post.
Curtis Garrison trains Wyomia, winner of the Mazarine (gr. III) last October at Woodbine. Victorious in the March 12 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in her 2011 debut, Wyomia will be ridden Saturday by Freddie Lenclud and break from post 3.
$400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (gr. I, Race 9, 5:23 p.m.) 3YO Fillies, 1 1/16 miles (Polytrack)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Bouquet Booth, R Albarado, 121, S Margolis
2. Lilacs and Lace, J Castellano, 121, J P Terranova, II
3. Wyomia, F Lenclud, 121, C L Garrison
4. Delightful Mary, S Bridgmohan, 121, M E Casse
5. Dancinginherdreams, J R Leparoux, 121, J T Ward, Jr.
6. Kathmanblu, A Garcia, 121, K G McPeek
7. Grand Style, J Graham, 121, G R Arnold, II
8. Draw It, R Maragh, 121, M J Maker
9. Excited, K J Desormeaux, 121, T A Pletcher