John Velazquez heads strong cast of top jockeys riding in Transylvania.

John Velazquez heads strong cast of top jockeys riding in Transylvania.


Transylvania Stakes Boasts Big Field, Top Jocks

Keeneland opens its 17-day spring meet on Friday and the first featured race is the grade III Transylvania Stakes. Although the race isn't the track's most prominent event this season--the April 10 Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) holds that distinction--the caliber of its participants is still impressive. Of the 11 jockeys named to ride in the Transylvania, five of them rank among the top 12 in the country by earnings this year: Edgar Prado, John Velazquez, Robby Albarado, Jerry Bailey, and Shane Sellers.

Velazquez, currently ranked third by North American earnings, will be aboard Courtlandt Farms' Commendation. Last October the son of Capote won two races at Keeneland, including the Bourbon County Stakes. That race was 8 1/2 furlongs on the turf, while the Transylvania is a mile. In his most recent start, Commendation finished fifth in the Feb. 21 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park, which was won by Kitten's Joy. Commendation is a half-brother to Take Charge Lady (Dehere--Felicita), who won the grade I Overbrook Spinster Stakes at Keeneland in 2002. Both Commendation and Take Charge Lady were bred by William Schettine.

Highweighted at 123 pounds in the Transylvania is Timo, a gray son of El Prado. Timo has also faced Kitten's Joy. Timo ran unplaced in his last start, the Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) at Calder Race Course. Kitten's Joy won that event. Carolyn Kapioltas bred and races Timo in the name of her C.K. Woods Stable. Last year the colt won the Mecke and Pilgrim Stakes. Both races were also on the turf.

Schettine has a horse of his own in the Transylvania, homebred Bachelor Blues. Last year Bachelor Blues won Woodbine's Summer Stakes (Can-IIT) for trainer Josie Carroll. In three starts so far this year, Bachelor Blues has placed once. He will be ridden for the first time by Mark Guidry. Bachelor Blues is a son of champion sprinter Smoke Glacken.

The one mile Transylvania Stakes offers a purse of $100,000. It is the ninth race on Friday. First post is at 1:15 p.m.

Here is the complete field:

Horse, Jockey (weight), Trainer
1--Timo, Edgar Prado (123), Billy Badgett
2--Grand Heritage, Pat Day (116), Bill Mott
3--Lost In Transit, Mark Johnston (116), Ronald Keith Kinmon
4--Mr. J.T.L., Rafael Bejarano (116), Roger Attfield
5--Commendation, John Velazquez (120), Graham Motion
6--America Alive, Robby Albarado (116), Neil Howard
7--Dynafire, Craig Perret (116), Roger Attfield
8--Exploited Storm, Larry Melancon (116), Bobby Barnett
9--Bachelor Blues, Mark Guidry (120), Josie Carroll
10--Ballado Breeze, Jerry Bailey (116), Elliott Walden
11--Captain Prudent, Shane Sellers (116), Larry Mayo