HABAYA TOPS OVERFLOW FIELD OF 12 FOR THURSDAY’S APPALACHIAN

Shadwell Stable’s Habaya, winner of the Grade 3 Miesque at Hollywood Park on turf last year, will carry high weight of 123 pounds and concede from two to six pounds to her rivals in the 21st running of the Grade 3 Appalachian to be contested at a mile over the Keeneland turf course on Thursday.

Prior to her Miesque score, Habaya had run second in the JPMorgan Jessamine Chase here last October at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Habaya will be ridden by Alan Garcia and break from post position eight.


There is one other graded stakes winner in the overflow field of 12 that includes two also-eligibles, and that is Nelson McMakin’s Hot Cha Cha, who won the Grade 3 Bourbonette on Polytrack at Turfway Park on March 21 in her most recent start.

Two other turf stakes winners are in the field. Dolphus Morrison’s Abbott Hall, beaten favorite in last year’s JPMorgan Jessamine, won the Happy Ticket at Louisiana Downs last year, and Forging Oaks Farm LLC’s April Pride (GB) comes into the Appalachian off a March 8 victory at a mile in the China Doll at Santa Anita.

The field for the Appalachian, from the hedge out, is as follows: Our Dahlia (K. Desormeaux, 119 pounds), More of the Best (G. Gomez, 119), Afternoon Stroll (J. Theriot, 117), Hot Cha Cha (O. Mojica, 119), Abbott Hall (R. Albarado, 119), Fast Tigress (E. Coa, 119), Simplify (S. Bridgmohan, 117), Habaya (A. Garcia, 123), Obsequious (E. Prado, 117) and April Pride (GB) (D. Flores, 121). Also-eligibles are Complicity (J. Leparoux, 117) and Walloon (H. Rosario, 117).


DOZEN RUNNERS LOOK PROBABLE FOR SATURDAY’S COOLMORE LEXINGTON

Lael Stables’ Pitched Perfectly, trained by Barclay Tagg, joined the list of probables for Saturday’s 28th running of the $300,000 Coolmore Lexington (G2) for 3-year-olds.

Keeneland stakes coordinator Tia Borgemenke has 12 horses listed as probable for the 1 1/16-mile event, headed by 2008 Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Square Eddie. Trained by Doug O’Neill, Square Eddie is expected to arrive at Keeneland on Tuesday.

Other probables for the Coolmore Lexington are Advice, Conservative, El Crespo, His Greatness, Jeranimo, Masala, Mythical Power, Omniscient, Parade Clown and one of two runners trained by Nick Zito, Brave Victory or Santana Six. Entries will be drawn Wednesday.

Conservative, trained by Shug McGaughey for Phipps Stable, worked five furlongs Monday morning in 1:01.40, galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.60, according to Keeneland clockers.


WEEKEND STAKES TAKING SHAPE

The names of between seven and 10 experienced older runners are expected to pass through the entry box Thursday for Sunday’s 79th running of the $150,000 Ben Ali (G3) at a mile and an eighth on the main track.

According to Keeneland stakes coordinator Tia Borgemenke, seven runners are considered as probable.

Headlining that list are two Toyota Blue Grass Stakes winners: Dominican from 2007 and Monba from 2008. Also, Sterwins, winner of last year’s Ben Ali, is considered a probable starter.

Other probables include graded stakes winners Adriano, Grasshopper, Your Round and Parading. Parading tuned up Monday morning for the Ben Ali with a half-mile work in :48.

Possibles for the race include stakes winners Big Glen, Museeb and Sir Whimsey.

A full field of fillies and mares is expected for Saturday’s 13th running of the Giant’s Causeway at 5 ½ furlongs on the turf.

Under consideration for the race, according to Borgemenke, are Anachini, Bahama Mama (IRE), Classify, Coy Cat, Diamondrella (GB), Excessive Heat, Genuine Devotion (IRE), Jazzy (ARG), Just for Keeps, Kosmo’s Buddy, Lady Chace, Megadeed, Mrs Petoski, She’s Yummy, Simply Seattle, Streamin Heat and Taletobetold.


MAFAAZ RETURNS TO TRACK; DERBY DECISION REMAINS UNANSWERED

Shadwell Stable’s Mafaaz (GB) returned to the training track for a jog under exercise rider Miguel Moya two days after running eighth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1).

“I don’t believe they have made a decision for the Derby,” said Les Reynolds, head traveling lad for trainer John Gosden.

Mafaaz, by virtue of his victory in Kentucky Derby Challenge at Kempton Park in England on March 18, is guaranteed a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) on May 2.

“The boss thought with the shipping at this time of year and with a young horse that he ran a little flat (in the Blue Grass),” Reynolds said. “I am sure he will get with Sheikh Hamdan (al Maktoum) and Rick Nichols (vice president and general manager of Shadwell) soon and reach a decision.”


STARDOM BOUND GALLOPS; NO DECISION ON PATENA

With trainer Rick Dutrow back in New York, assistant Michelle Nevin was on hand at Barn 28 on Monday overseeing the activity of champion Stardom Bound and Patena, who ran 10th in Saturday’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1).

Nevin, who was the regular morning partner for champion Big Brown last year, was aboard Stardom Bound for a strong gallop Monday morning. Nevin said a decision had not been made yet on when or if Stardom Bound would ship to Churchill Downs for a possible run in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (G1).

As for Patena, “we will probably regroup with him,” Nevin said.


ECLIPSE AWARD WINNER PROUD SPELL RETIRED; TO BE BRED TO INDIAN CHARLIE

Brereton Jones, owner of 2008 champion 3-year-old filly Proud Spell, said Monday morning that the homebred daughter of Proud Citizen has been retired and will be bred to Indian Charlie.

“She had missed a key work for the Apple Blossom because of a little swelling in her ankle,” Jones said. “It is nothing serious, but more of an omen for us because we had been debating whether to keep her in training or retire her.”

Proud Spell ran third in last spring’s Ashland Stakes (G1) before coming back four weeks later to win the Kentucky Oaks (G1). In her lone 2009 start, Proud Spell ran second in an allowance race March 12 at Oaklawn Park.


GALLOPING OUT

For the second year in a row on Toyota Blue Grass Day, an obvious hunch play escaped many bettors at Keeneland. John Goldthorpe’s Tiger Woodman, running during the Saturday round of the Masters golf tournament, won at Keeneland. Trained by Rusty Arnold, Tiger Woodman won for the fifth time in 29 starts in Saturday’s 10th race, a mile and an eighth turf allowance, and returned a $24.20 mutuel.

Last year, Tiger Woodman paid $13.60 in a turf allowance win at a mile and three-sixteenths.

In both Keeneland races, Tiger Woodman defeated Pick Six and Equitable, both of whom went off at shorter odds both times.

Dennis “Peaches” Geier, assistant to trainer Bret Calhoun, said that Chamberlain Bridge and Mr. Nightlinger exited their efforts in Saturday’s Grade 3 Shakertown in good order.

“They are both doing good,” Geier said of the duo that ran third and fifth, respectively. “There is a chance both could run in the Aegon Turf Sprint. The plan now is to ship everybody to Churchill (Downs) on the 20th.”

Mr. Nightlinger, winner of last year’s Shakertown, won the five-furlong Aegon Turf Sprint (G3) last year.

Trainer Ken McPeek saddled two winners at Gulfstream Park on Sunday to raise his career total to 993. McPeek has saddled 99 of those winners at Keeneland. McPeek has two horses entered at Keeneland on Wednesday.

Saturday’s payoff on the Maker’s Mark Mile-Toyota Blue Grass double returned $217.80 for a $2 investment. The winning combination was 1-8, pairing Mr. Sidney in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) and General Quarters in the Toyota Blue Grass (G1).