Brendan Walsh takes over training duties of Beckford

Brendan Walsh takes over training duties of Beckford

Keeneland/Coady Photography

Royal Ascot Hopeful Beckford set for Churchill Opener

Beckford finished fifth in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).

Newtown Anner Stud's Beckford heads a field of 10 3-year-olds entered April 28 for the fourth running of the $100,000 William Walker Stakes going five furlongs on the turf, the highlight of Churchill Downs' Opening Night presented by Budweiser.

The connections of Beckford—now trained by Brendan Walsh—are hoping to use the race as a prep for Royal Ascot. The colt is an early entry for the Commonwealth Cup (G1) for 3-year-olds June 22.

Saturday's 10-race program that begins at 6 p.m. EDT will kick off the 38-day spring meet that will be highlighted by the 144th editions of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) May 5 and the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 4.

The William Walker will go as the evening's ninth race with a 10:11 p.m. post time.

Beckford will be making his first start since finishing fifth behind Mendelssohn in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T). Prior to that, the son of Bated Breath had won a group 2 race in Ireland and was runner-up in two group 1 tests for trainer Gordon Elliott. Julien Leparoux has the mount and will break from post 7.

Top challengers to Beckford come from both coasts, with Starlight Racing's Salmanazar and Abdullah Saeed Almaddah's Masked.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Salmanazar has won one of two grass starts this year with his victory coming in the Texas Glitter Stakes at Gulfstream Park going five furlongs. Corey Lanerie has the mount and will break from the inside.

Masked comes to Churchill Downs off two consecutive victories over Santa Anita Park's hillside turf course going 6 1/2 furlongs. Trained by Bob Baffert, Masked will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan and break from post 5.

Entries: William Walker S.

Churchill Downs, Saturday, April 28, 2018, Race 9

  • STK
  • 5f
  • Turf
  • $100,000
  • 3 yo
  • 10:11 PM (local)
11Salmanazar (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateCorey J. Lanerie123Todd A. Pletcher9/2
22I'm Corfu (FL)Arienne Cox123Wayne W. Rice50/1
33Vitsal (NY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRobby Albarado118Ben Colebrook10/1
44Elusive Mischief (VA)Keeneland Sales GraduateAdam Beschizza118Mark E. Casse10/1
55Masked (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateShaun Bridgmohan118Bob Baffert7/2
66Angaston (KY)Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.118Luis A. Jurado30/1
77Beckford (GB)Julien R. Leparoux123Brendan P. Walsh3/1
88Battle Station (NY)Keeneland Sales GraduateAlbin Jimenez118Wesley A. Ward8/1
99Drena's Star (KY)Florent Geroux118Thomas M. Amoss5/1
1010Pure Shot (FL)Ricardo Santana, Jr.118Steven M. Asmussen8/1