DUTROW OPTIMISTIC ABOUT STARDOM BOUND’S ASHLAND CHANCES

Trainer Rick Dutrow was quietly confident Friday morning about Stardom Bound’s chances in Saturday’s 72nd running of the $400,000 Ashland Stakes (G1).

“I know that she likes it here and is doing good,” Dutrow said. “She has already beaten most of the horses in there, so I feel very good about our chances.”

Stardom Bound, owned by the partnership of IEAH Stables, David Lanzman, Paul Pompa Jr., Michael Dubb and Gary Tolchin, remained in Barn 28 on a cold and wet Friday morning but was scheduled to school in the paddock with horses in Friday’s first race.

In other Ashland news, Farnsworth Stables’ Gozzip Girl arrived at Keeneland early Thursday afternoon and then galloped a mile and a quarter Friday morning under exercise rider Adele Bellinger. Trainer Tom Albertrani is not expected to be here for the Ashland.

Other Ashland entrants on the track Friday morning were Livin the Dream Racing’s Dream Empress, who jogged two miles under Jessica Stith, Derby Daze Farms and Mark Hoffman’s Hooh Why, who jogged a half-mile and then galloped nearly a mile; J. Paul Reddam’s Nan, who galloped a mile and a half under Dale Baze and then walked through the paddock back to Barn 5; Dawn and Ike Thrash’s Third Dawn, who galloped a mile and a half under Dana Barnes; and Peachtree Stable’s Boleyn, who galloped.

Tri-Bone Stables’ undefeated What a Pear walked the shedrow, leaving Westrock Stables’ Be Fair as the only Ashland entrant not on the grounds Friday morning. Be Fair, trained by three-time Ashland winner D. Wayne Lukas, has been at Oaklawn Park.


MAFAAZ HEADED FOR U.S. EARLY SATURDAY MORNING

Peter Shoemark, racing office manager for John Gosden Racing, said that Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes winner Mafaaz was scheduled to depart Great Britain early Saturday morning with a scheduled arrival in Wilmington, Delaware, of 9:55 a.m.

Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, Mafaaz is scheduled to clear quarantine at Churchill Downs and then ship to Keeneland, where he will be housed in Barn 1.

Shoemark said no decision on a rider for Mafaaz in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) has been made. Richard Hills rode Mafaaz to victrory in the March 18 Kentucky Derby Challenge at Kempton Park.

In other Toyota Blue Grass news, Adele Dilschneider’s Terrain jogged a half-mile and then galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Keith Harris. Terrain is scheduled to work five furlongs in company Saturday morning.

IEAH Stables, John Sikura, et al, Joseph Bulger and James Covello’s Patena galloped a mile and a quarter. Trainer Rick Dutrow said Patena probably would work Sunday or Monday.

Silverton Hill LLC’s Cliffy’s Future galloped a mile and a half under trainer Darrin Miller as did Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.’s Charitable Man, who had exercise rider Pat Correa up. Neal McLaughlin, brother of and assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, said Charitable Man “may go to the gate in the morning if the weather is better” and is penciled in for a half-mile or five-eighths work Sunday.

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Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, said Unbridle’s Dream would work at Keeneland on Monday. Owned by Mike McCarty, the son of Unbridled’s Song is coming off a third-place finish in the Black Gold at Fair Grounds on January 31. Blasi said no decision had been made on which jockey would ride the Unbridle’s Dream in the Toyota Blue Grass.


DEFENDING CHAMPIONS HEADLINE NOMINEES FOR THREE TOYOTA BLUE GRASS DAY STAKES

In addition to the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) next Saturday, three other graded stakes will be on the card and the 2008 winners of all three races are among the nominees to this year’s renewals.

Hickory Tree Stables’ Rebellion (GB) heads a list of 15 nominees for the $250,000 Commonwealth (G2) for 3-year-olds and up going seven furlongs on the main track. Another Commonwealth nominee is Vision Racing’s Keep Laughing, winner of last spring’s Lafayette Stakes here.

Virginia Kraft Payson’s Rutherienne, winner of the 2008 Jenny Wiley (G2), heads a list of 27 nominees for this year’s renewal of the $200,000 race at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up. Other luminaries on the list of nominees are Augustin Stable’s Eclipse Award-winning mare Forever Together and Paul Pompa Jr.’s Backseat Rhythm.

Forever Together won the First Lady (G1) here last fall before winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1). Backseat Rhythm, second in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) here last fall, comes into the Jenny Wiley off a narrow victory in the March 14 Hillsborough Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.

Mr. Nightlinger, who began a five-race win streak with a victory in the Shakertown (G3) last spring, heads a list of 31 nominees for this year’s 13th renewal of the $100,000, 5 ½-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds and up. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Mr. Nightlinger is owned by Carl Moore Management LLC and Martin Racing Stable.

Entries for all three stakes, as well as the Toyota Blue Grass, will be drawn Wednesday.


GALLOPING OUT

Rick Dutrow, hoping for a sweep of the spring meeting’s marquee 3-year-old races with Stardom Bound in the Ashland (G1) and Patena in the Toyota Blue Grass (G1), has been a regular visitor to Three Chimneys Farm when he is at Keeneland to see Big Brown, winner of the 2008 Kentucky Derby, Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). “I go see him every day,” Dutrow said. “He seems like one happy horse.”

The Grade 1, $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile, scheduled to be run next Friday on the turf for 4-year-olds and up, drew 19 nominations. Heading the nominees is Zayat Stables’ Thorn Song, winner of the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile here last fall.

A total of 19 nominations were received for the second running of the $100,000 Fort Harrod for 4-year-olds and up at a mile and five-eighths on the main track. Entries for the Maker’s Mark Mile and Fort Harrod will be drawn Tuesday.


OPENING WEEKEND SPECIAL EVENTS

Saturday , April 4 - Breakfast with the Works - Southern-style breakfast and children’s activities 7 – 8:30 a.m., 8:45 a.m. paddock demonstration with the Lexington Mounted Police. Breakfast is $7.50, Kids 3 and under free.

Signing by noted photographer James Archambeault. Saturday, April 4, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Free Handicapping Seminar - Beginning at 11:30 a.m. on the ground floor of the grandstand adjacent to the paddock.

Meet and Greet - Fans can mingle with Racing Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith following the noon playing of the national anthem and before the first race. Smith will ride champion Stardom Bound in Saturday’s Ashland (G1).

Sunday, April 5 - Keeneland will salute police and firefighters, who receive free general admission and access to reserved Grandstand section with their badges or ID.