Two 2017 Breeders' Cup winners—champion Caledonia Road, who won the 14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies (G1), and the undefeated Rushing Fall, winner of the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1)—headline the list of horses nominated to six graded stakes that are part of eight stakes to be run during the April 6-8 opening weekend of Keeneland's 2018 Spring Meet.
The 16-day season, from April 6-27, offers racing Wednesday through Sunday. Post time for the first race each day is 1:05 p.m. ET.
Highlighting opening weekend is the 94th running of the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and the 81st running of the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), both Saturday, April 7.
The opening-day feature is the 30th running of the $150,000 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. This marks the first year Kentucky Utilities is sponsoring the race.
Topping the roster of 40 nominees is West Point Thoroughbreds' Untamed Domain. Trained by Graham Motion, Untamed Domain was second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Del Mar in November and opened 2018 with a third-place finish in the Dania Beach (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 3.
Other marquee names nominated to the race are Treadway Racing Stable's Maraud, winner of the Palm Beach (G3) at Gulfstream on March 3 for trainer Todd Pletcher, and William H. Lawrence's undefeated Cecil B. DeMille (G3) winner Analyze It for trainer Chad Brown.
The Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland anchor a blockbuster 11-race program on opening Saturday that features five stakes worth $2.25 million.
Joining the Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland are the 17th running of the $300,000 Madison (G1) for fillies and mares at 7 furlongs on the main track; the 22nd running of the $200,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 51/2 furlongs on the turf; and the 32nd running of the $250,000 Commonwealth (G3) for 4-year-olds and up going 7 furlongs on the dirt.
Topping the 35 nominations for the Madison is Ivan Dalos' three-time graded stakes winner Ami's Mesa. Trained by Josie Carroll, Ami's Mesa was a runner-up in her lone career race on dirt, that coming in her most recent start in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) in November at Del Mar when she lost by a nose.
Other nominees of note to the Madison include Carl R. Moore Management's Finley'sluckycharm, winner of last fall's Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) at Keeneland; Semaphore Racing and Homewrecker Racing's Sailor's Valentine, winner of last year's Central Bank Ashland; and Alan Klein and Phillip Lebherz's Miss Sunset, winner of last fall's Lexus Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland.
The Shakertown attracted Stonestreet Stables and Peter Leidel's European champion and multiple Group 1 winner Lady Aurelia as the headliner among 43 nominees.
Trained by Wesley Ward, Lady Aurelia has not raced since finishing 10th against males in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) in November. She opened her 2017 campaign with a victory in April in the Giant's Causeway (L) at Keeneland.
Other nominees of note are Patricia Generazio's Disco Partner and Ironhorse Racing Stable's Bucchero, the third- and fourth-place finishers, respectively, in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Bucchero won last fall's Woodford (G2) Presented by Keeneland Select at Keeneland.
Also nominated is Wes Walker and Elizabeth Kumin's Undrafted, winner of the 2016 Shakertown.
Defending champion Awesome Slew tops a roster of 30 nominees to the Commonwealth. Owned by Live Oak Plantation and trained by Mark Casse, Awesome Slew could join Black Tie Affair (IRE) (1990-1991) as the only repeat winner of the race.
A three-time graded stakes winner, Awesome Slew has not raced since finishing third in the Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in November.
Other nominees of note include Katherine Ball's Limousine Liberal, a two-time graded stakes winner who was third in the Commonwealth last year, and Whitham Thoroughbreds' three-time graded stakes winner McCraken, third in last year's Toyota Blue Grass.
Completing the opening weekend stakes lineup is a Sunday, April 8, doubleheader for 3-year-old fillies that attracted the Breeders' Cup winners among the nominees.
Rushing Fall, who won the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3) at Keeneland as a steppingstone to her Breeders' Cup victory, tops a roster of 41 nominees to the 30th running of the $200,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association going a mile on the turf. The Appalachian was upgraded for 2018 and the purse increased by $75,000.
Owned by eFive Racing Thoroughbreds, Rushing Fall is one of four nominees to the race for trainer Chad Brown. The others are Stephanie Seymour Brant's Significant Form, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf; Swift Thoroughbreds, Madaket Stables and Doheny Racing Stable's Altea (FR); and Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables' Salsa Bella (FR). Altea and Salsa Bella are the respective third- and fifth-place finishers in the recent Florida Oaks (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Other nominees of note include Florida Oaks winner Andina Del Sur owned by Don Alberto Corp.; Great Point Stables, Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables' Thewayiam (FR), winner of the Sweetest Chant (G3) and Herecomesthebride (G3) at Gulfstream this winter; and Susan and Jim Hill's Daddy Is a Legend, an eye-popping Keeneland maiden winner before taking the Jimmy Durante (G3) at Del Mar to close 2017.
Zoom and Fish Stable and Charlie Spiring's Caledonia Road heads a list of 37 nominees to the 33rd running of the $150,000 Beaumont (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select run on the main track at the Beard Course distance of 7 furlongs, 184 feet.
The Beaumont is the final prep in Kentucky for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 4 at Churchill Downs. A total of 17 Kentucky Oaks points will be available in the race on a 10-4-2-1 scale for the top four finishers.
Trained by Ralph Nicks, Caledonia Road has not raced since her Breeders' Cup victory.
Other nominees of note include Peter Deutsch's Take Charge Paula, winner of the Forward Gal (G3) at Gulfstream, and Three Diamonds Farm's Go Noni Go, winner of the recent Bourbonette Oaks (G3) at Turfway Park.Industry News Releases - In support of Thoroughbred industry organizations, BloodHorse is posting news releases relating to the industry. The releases have not been edited by Blood-Horse. If there are any questions please contact the organization that has produced the news release as directed in the news release.