THURSDAY, APRIL 18

Keeneland’s 16-day Spring Meet runs through Friday, April 26. First post is 1:05 p.m.

Keeneland is closed Easter Sunday, April 21.

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·         ORTIZ ALL SMILES WHEN DISCUSSING KENTUCKY DERBY HOPEFUL TACITUS

·         MORAVIA (GB) RETURNS TO ACTION THIS AFTERNOON

·         GALLOPING OUT

·         WORK TAB

·         KENTUCKIAN CLOSES WITH A RUSH TO CAPTURE GRADE ONE GAMBLE HANDICAPPING CONTEST

·         UPCOMING STAKES PROBABLES

·         SPRING MEET SPECIAL EVENTS

·         SPRING MEET LEADERS

 

ORTIZ ALL SMILES WHEN DISCUSSING

KENTUCKY DERBY HOPEFUL TACITUS

Jose Ortiz has ridden in the Kentucky Derby (G1) four times and came close to grabbing the roses last year when he was aboard champion Good Magic, who finished second to eventual Triple Crown winner Justify.

This year, he is set to ride Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Tacitus, the leading point-earner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 150 points by virtue of victories in the Wood Memorial Presented by NYRA Bets (G2) and Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

“I have been with him all along,” Ortiz said Thursday morning at Keeneland, where he is riding for the rest of the Spring Meet before going to Churchill Downs for Derby Week. “He was green his first two races; Tampa Bay was OK and the Wood was OK. I think he will be better next time.”

Tacitus was fourth in his debut Oct. 4 at Belmont and hasn’t lost since beginning with a maiden victory Nov. 10 at Aqueduct.

Tacitus is the first foal of champion Close Hatches, a five-time Grade 1 winner.

“I did not ride her,” said Ortiz, the 2017 Eclipse Award winner as the outstanding rider in North America. “She came around in 2013 and I just had my (apprentice allowance) and wasn’t riding big horses then.”

MORAVIA (GB) RETURNS TO ACTION THIS AFTERNOON

Group 3 runner-up Moravia (GB) is scheduled to make her delayed North American debut today at Keeneland in the fifth race, a 1-mile turf allowance test for 3-year-old fillies.

Trained by Jorge Abreu, Moravia came to Keeneland last fall and was the 4-1 morning-line second choice for the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2) but hurt herself in her stall the morning of the race and was scratched. She did not return to the work tab until 4½ months later.

“She was rolling in the stall and her left shin hit a screw eye bolt for the webbing,” Abreu said. “There was just a little knot there, not (affecting) the whole shin, but we couldn’t run (that day). She is doing fine, and we hope to get back on track.”

After earning the first win of her career in June 2018 in Ireland at Leopardstown, Moravia was purchased privately by Steve Weston of Parkland Thoroughbreds. She came to the U.S. following the runner-up finish in a Group 3 race at Leopardstown.

Parkland races Moravia in partnership with Jeff Alston and William Andrade.

GALLOPING OUT

Trainer Ignacio Correas IV said Merriebelle Stable’s Blue Prize (ARG) would scratch from Friday’s $100,000 Hilliard Lyons-Baird Doubledogdare (G3) in favor of the $500,000 La Troienne (G1) on May 3 at Churchill Downs.

“It was a combination of factors,” said Correas of Blue Prize, who worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 on Wednesday. “Weather was a concern (with rain in the forecast for Friday). When the track gets wet here, it favors speed and I had to make the decision to breeze or not.”

Other factors were the size of the purse for the Grade 1 race and the non-participation of champion Monomoy Girl. …

Tyler Servis, son of trainer John Servis, said third-place Central Bank Ashland (G1) finisher Jaywalk would have one work, April 26, here before shipping to Churchill Downs for the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1). “It is the same thing we did in 2016 with Cathryn Sophia,” Servis said of the filly, who finished third in the Central Bank Ashland before winning the Oaks four weeks later with one work here in between. …

Trainer Wesley Ward said a trip to Royal Ascot in England could be in the future for Ramon Tallaj’s Nayibeth, impressive winner of Wednesday’s fifth race in her debut. Joel Rosario rode the filly to a 4¼-length victory in the 4½-furlong race in :51.54, fastest time for the distance of the first 10 days of the Spring Meet. Nayibeth, the 3-10 favorite, is the first winner for her sire, Carpe Diem, winner of Keeneland’s 2015 Toyota Blue Grass (G1). Finishing second was stablemate Owlette.

WORK TAB

Limousine Liberal, in his first work since finishing third in the Commonwealth (G3) on April 6, worked 5 furlongs over a fast track in 1:00.20 with Jose Ortiz aboard. Fractions on the work were :23.40, :36 and :48. The move was the fastest of 18 at the distance on the morning.

Owned by Katherine Ball and trained by Ben Colebrook, Limousine Liberal is being pointed to the $500,000 Churchill Downs (G1) on May 4. He has won that race the past two years. …

Also working was undefeated Bulletin, who covered a half-mile in :49.60. Winner of the opening-day Palisades Turf Sprint, Bulletin is trained by Todd Pletcher for owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing.



KENTUCKIAN CLOSES WITH A RUSH TO CAPTURE GRADE ONE GAMBLE HANDICAPPING CONTEST

Overcoming inclement weather and late changes to the contest landscape, Faron McCubbins of Mount Washington, Kentucky, hammered Keeneland’s ninth race Sunday with an $800 exacta on 8-10 that paid $28,560, resulting in an incredible final bankroll of $31,560 that bested 180 other contestants in the Grade One Gamble that day. For his efforts, McCubbins took home $35,000 in prize money, a fully paid Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) berth at Santa Anita worth $10,000 and an entry into the 2020 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) in Las Vegas.

The day began with steady rain at Keeneland that caused all races to be taken off the turf; multiple scratches followed. Contest management added three races from Gulfstream Park and two races from Aqueduct to the contest menu, and the changes resulted in a competitive contest that was decided at the wire.

Longtime leader Dan Slattery of Bethesda, Maryland, who cashed for $19,000 on Gulfstream’s fourth race, was passed late by the huge play of McCubbins, but took home his bankroll of $18,449.80 plus $18,000, a fully paid BCBC spot and an NHC entry.

Joining McCubbins and Slattery at the BCBC and NHC are Kevin Kerstein of Louisville, Paul Scott of Plantation, Florida, and Brett Kelly of Hobe Sound, Florida. Prize money for third through fifth place was $9,000, $4,500 and $2,500, respectively.

Sixth-place finisher Jeff Joffrion of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, took home a partial BCBC berth, an NHC berth and $1,500 in cash.

Seventh- through 10th-place finishers Justin Nicholson of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania; Pete Acocella of Great River, New York; Jim Metzger of Louisville and Ross Gallo of Jupiter, Florida, snagged an NHC entry and $1,500 in cash.

The full leaderboard can be found by clicking here.

UPCOMING STAKES PROBABLES

$150,000 BEWITCH (G3) (Entries taken Tuesday, April 23; race Friday, April 26) – Beach Flower (trainer Mac Robertson), Coachwhip (Jack Sisterson), Flower Party (IRE) (Mike Stidham), Gaining (GB) (Brad Cox), Get Explicit (Barbara Minshall), Ickymasho (GB) (Roger Attfield), Maroubra (FR) (Cherie DeVaux) and Samuna (FR) (Jorge Abreu). Possible: Vexatious (Neil Drysdale).



SPRING MEET SPECIAL EVENTS

Celebrating its 80th anniversary, the Keeneland Library is one of the world’s largest repositories of information related to the Thoroughbred. In its exhibit “Herbert Haseltine: The Gold Standard,” visitors will see two prominent works from the latter period of the acclaimed sculptor of the early 20th century: “The Thoroughbred Horse” and “Portrait of the Racehorse Tom Fool.” The exhibit “From the Vault: Jockeys” features 26 images dating from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century from the Library’s archive of more than 1 million negatives and photographic prints. Varied memorabilia from Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Arcaro, Ted Atkinson and Bill Shoemaker accompany the photographs. The Library is open weekdays at no charge from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Official Keeneland ToursKeeneland offers a selection of year-round, guided racing and sales tours, including Behind-the-Scenes Racing Tours, Owner’s Experience Tours and Backstretch Tours with a Day at the Races. On Saturdays during Sunrise Trackside, free guided tours begin every 20 minutes from the welcome stand near the Paddock and Walking Ring from 7:30-10 a.m.

Thursday, April 18

The Keeneland Shop Milliners Corner with Dorfman Pacific (through Saturday, April 20).

Friday, April 19

The Hill – Fans who like to tailgate will enjoy the festive atmosphere of The Hill, where they can watch races on a jumbo TV and place wagers. The Hill also features food trucks, The Keeneland Shop kiosk and complimentary shuttles to the track. Live music is presented by The Burl, a popular live music venue in Lexington, from noon to 4 p.m.

 

$200,000 Friday Pick Four Presented by TVG. Includes races 7-10. The ninth race is the Hilliard Lyons-Baird Doubledogdare (G3).

Saturday, April 20



Sunrise Trackside – The day begins early for racehorses. Keeneland invites you and your family to experience their mornings with Breakfast With the Works, which features breakfast for purchase and trackside commentary (7-8:30 a.m.) while horses train on the main track. The event includes children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7:30-9:30 a.m.); guided Keeneland tours that depart from the welcome stand near the Paddock (7:30-10 a.m.) and Paddock demonstration from the Lexington Mounted Police Unit (9-9:30 a.m). Parking and admission to the morning events are free.

 

Jockey Q&A with Florent Geroux in the Walking Ring (12:05 p.m.).

 

The Hill – Fans who like to tailgate will enjoy the festive atmosphere of The Hill, where they can watch races on a jumbo TV and place wagers. The Hill also features food trucks, The Keeneland Shop kiosk and complimentary shuttles to the track. Live music is presented by The Burl, a popular live music venue in Lexington from noon to 4 p.m.

NYRA Cross Country Wager features races from Keeneland and other tracks.

$300,000 Guaranteed Pick Four Presented by TVG. Includes races 7-10. Race 9 is the Dixiana Elkhorn (G2).

Sunday, April 21 – Easter – Keeneland is closed.

SPRING MEET LEADERS

 

Through April 17 (10 days of 16-day season)

 

 

Jockey

Starts

Wins

2nd

3rd

Purses

Javier Castellano

33

14

7

4

$1,905,914

Joel Rosario

29

11

5

3

$577,292

Florent Geroux

49

9

8

4

$600,849

John Velazquez

30

8

2

6

$414,123

Luis Saez

42

7

6

1

$470,000

Julien Leparoux

47

7

4

7

$427,468

 

 

Trainer

Starts

Wins

2nd

3rd

Purses

Chad Brown

20

6

6

3

$671,449

Wesley Ward

24

5

3

4

$368,811

Brad Cox

17

5

3

0

$358,477

Dallas Stewart

16

4

2

1

$486,362

Ian Wilkes

23

4

2

1

$259,549

Brendan Walsh

13

4

0

3

$140,345

 

 

Owner

Wins

e Five Racing Thoroughbreds (Robert J. Edwards Jr.)

3

Hronis Racing (Kosta Hronis)

3

Juddmonte Farms (Khalid Abdullah)

3