Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) winner Pluck headlines the $100,000 Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT), as opening day of the 2011 Keeneland spring meet kicks off on Friday, April 8.
The Transylvania, a 1 1/16-mile contest for 3-year-olds on the turf course, drew a field of 10, with Pluck drawing the outside post under Garrett Gomez. The feature of the 10-race program is scheduled for 5:23 p.m. EDT. Keeneland’s 15–day stand runs through April 29, highlighted by the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on April 16.
Team Valor International and Vinery Stables’ Pluck won three of five starts as a 2-year-old, including the BC Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs by 2 1/2 lengths under Gomez. The son of More Than Ready was trained by Todd Pletcher in 2010, but was transferred to the barn of Graham Motion at the start of this year. Pluck ran fourth as the 3-10 favorite in his season debut, a one-mile allowance race March 12 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Pluck, who was bred by Team Valor in Kentucky, will be running on his sixth different turf course. His other stakes victory came in the Summer Stakes (Can-IIIT) last fall at Woodbine.
Pluck will carry 123 pounds, as will stakes winners Adirondack Summer and Air Support. Peter Deutsch’s Adirondack Summer scored the Jan. 16 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream in his season debut. Trained by Christophe Clement, the Thunder Gulch colt closed from eighth at the top of the stretch to get up by a nose in the one-mile trek. As a juvenile, Adirondack Summer won once in two starts. Alan Garcia keeps the mount.
Stuart Janney III’s Air Support makes his season debut after finishing ninth in the BC Juvenile Turf last out. He won twice as a juvenile, including the Pilgrim (gr. IIIT) when defeating Soldat by 1 1/2 lengths on Belmont Park’s yielding turf course. Rajiv Maragh will have the call for Shug McGaughey.
Third to Pluck in the Summer Stakes was Stormy Rush, and he returns for Roger Attfield in his season debut. Stormy Rush has the benefit of a race over the Keeneland lawn, as he placed fourth in the Bourbon Stakes (gr. IIIT) last fall. Jose Lezcano will ride.
Julien Leparoux has won the Transylvania the last two years, and he will have the mount for Steve Asmussen on Grindstone Stakes winner Great Mills. The War Front colt has won his last three starts dating back to his maiden victory at Fair Grounds in December, but will be routing for the first time.
$150,000 Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 5:23 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Stormy Rush (KY), J Lezcano, 117, R L Attfield
2. Legendary King (KY), A Stephen, 117, G Dorochenko
3. Powhatan County (KY), J Castellano, 117, G Weaver
4. Ronin Dax (KY), F Lenclud, 117, D R Vance
5. Air Support (KY), R Maragh, 123, C R McGaughey III
6. Adirondack Summer (NY), A Garcia, 123, C Clement
7. Great Mills (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, S M Asmussen
8. Memen (IRE), K J Desormeaux, 117, J Lloyd
9. Lil Bit O'Fun (KY), L R Goncalves, 119, T F Proctor
10. Pluck (KY), G K Gomez, 123, H G Motion