DARLEY DUO HEADS FIELD OF EIGHT FOR FRIDAY’S CENTRAL BANK TRANSYLVANIA

Darley Stable will send out Stormalory and Florentino (JPN) against six rivals Friday in the 21st running of the $150,000 Central Bank Transylvania (G3) at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf for 3-year-olds.

The Transylvania serves as the centerpiece of the opening day of the 15-day spring meeting that runs through April 24. First post time for Friday’s 10-race card is 1:05 p.m. (EDT).

Racing will be held Wednesday through Sunday with April 12, Easter Sunday, being a dark day.

Stormalory, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, enters the Transylvania off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Palm Beach on March 14 at Gulfstream Park. A son of Storm Cat, Stormalory broke his maiden on the main track at Keeneland last fall. Julien Leparoux will ride Stormalory for Mott, the second all-time leading trainer at Keeneland with 214 victories, three of which came in the Transylvania.

Florentino, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, has won two of three turf starts in 2009. His lone defeat came at the hands of Stormalory in a Gulfstream allowance race at the Transylvania distance. Alan Garcia, who has been aboard for all three starts in 2009, has the call Friday.

Uptown Racing LLC’s Boss Lafitte won last year’s running of the Transylvania under Robby Albarado for trainer Tom Amoss. Last year’s race marked the first time in its history that it had been moved off the turf to the main track.

The field for the Central Bank Transylvania, from the hedge out, is as follows: Skipadate (S. Bridgmohan, 117 pounds), Smart Bid (E. Prado, 119), Oil Man (IRE) (J. Velazquez, 117), Southern Anthem (C. Lanerie, 117), Florentino (JPN) (A. Garcia, 119), Orthodox (J. Castanon, 119), Mikoshi (R. Albarado, 117) and Stormalory (J. Leparoux, 119).


CHARITABLE MAN ARRIVES FOR TOYOTA BLUE GRASS RUN

Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.’s Charitable Man didn’t waste much time getting down to business after arriving late Monday night after spending the winter at Palm Meadows in Florida.

With exercise rider Pat Correa up, Charitable Man galloped a mile and a quarter Tuesday morning as he began his local preparation for the Toyota Blue Grass (G1) to be run April 11.

The Toyota Blue Grass will be the first start of the year for Charitable Man, who has not run since winning the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont Park on September 13.

“He had a saucer fracture of a shin,” said Neal McLaughlin, brother of and assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “When we started back, we knew everything would have to go perfect and so far everything has. He has not missed a day of training and every work we had planned he made every time.”

Charitable Man had seven works at Palm Meadows, the most recent being last Saturday. He worked five furlongs in :59.85, the best of 42 at the distance that morning.

“He will have one breeze here before the Blue Grass, probably Sunday,” McLaughlin said.

Alan Garcia, who has been aboard for the undefeated colt’s two victories, is scheduled to have the Toyota Blue Grass mount.

Charitable Man wasn’t the only luminary arriving late Monday night.

“We have Justwhistledixie, who just won the Bonnie Miss, here and she will be training for the Kentucky Oaks (G1),” McLaughlin said. “We’ve got Backseat Rhythm, a new arrival in our barn, for the (April 11) Jenny Wiley (G2) and we have Keep Laughing, who won the Lafayette last year, for the (April 11) Commonwealth (G2).”

Backseat Rhythm ran second in last fall’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland.

McLaughlin also said that Mafaaz (GB), winner of the Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes in England on March 18, would be housed in Barn 1 once he clears quarantine for trainer John Gosden. Mafaaz is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Saturday before shipping to Keeneland for the Toyota Blue Grass.

In other Toyota Blue Grass notes, Silverton Hill LLC’s Cliffy’s Future jogged two miles with trainer Darrin Miller up; IEAH Stable, John Sikura, Et al, Joseph Bulger and James Covello’s Patena galloped and Adele Dilschneider’s Terrain jogged once around.

Frankfurt Stable’s Massone, trained by Hall of Famer Ron McAnally, worked a mile Sunday at Santa Anita in 1:39.20. Massone is scheduled to ship to Keeneland on April 5.


HOOH WHY EXITS WORK IN GOOD ORDER

Co-owner Mark Hoffman walked his Ashland hopeful Hooh Why on Tuesday morning, a day after the Cloud Hopping filly worked a half-mile in :49.60.

“She came out of the work great and will go back to the track and jog in the morning,” Hoffman said. “She couldn’t be coming into the race any better.”

In other Ashland notes, Stardom Bound returned to the track and jogged a mile under Nuno Santos. The champion juvenile filly of 2008, Stardom Bound had worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 on Sunday morning at Keeneland.

Dream Empress, winner of last fall’s Darley Alcibiades (G1), galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Jessica Stith. Trainer Ken McPeek is scheduled to be in Lexington on Thursday, according to assistant Jordan Blair.

Scheduled to arrive Tuesday from California for the Ashland were J. Paul Reddam’s Nan, and Dawn and Ike Thrash’s Third Dawn.

Nan, trained by Craig Dollase, had her final pre-Ashland work on Saturday at Hollywood Park, covering six furlongs in 1:11.20. It was the fastest work of 22 at the distance. Dollase saddled Elloluv to win the 2003 Ashland.

Third Dawn, trained by John Sadler, worked seven furlongs in 1:26.60 at Santa Anita on Saturday.


CHAMPION FOREVER TOGETHER, INFORMED DECISION TRAINING FOR 2009 DEBUTS AT KEENELAND

Champion Forever Together, who won Keeneland’s First Lady (G1) last October before taking the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1), and Informed Decision, who won the Raven Run (G2) last fall in track-record time, are both at Keeneland to prepare for their 2009 debuts. Jonathan Sheppard trains the two runners for George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable.

After the Breeders’ Cup, Forever Together returned to Sheppard’s farm in Pennsylvania and remained in light training for all but 10 days. About a month ago, she was sent to Camden, South Carolina, where she breezed four or five times. Forever Together returned to Keeneland on Saturday.

“She’s going to have a light breeze tomorrow, then a serious work at the beginning of next week,” Sheppard said.

Forever Together is scheduled to start in the $200,000 Jenny Wiley (G2) on April 11. The 1 1/16-mile turf race is for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up.

Sheppard said Forever Together blossomed during her stay at Keeneland last fall and already has settled in.

“She likes the Polytrack; she likes the cooler weather,” he said about the 5-year-old daughter of Belong to Me, who has won six of 14 races and has earned $2,004,533. “She likes the fact that we can take different routes to and from the track, and can take her outside for a nice graze in the afternoon.”

After spending the winter at Sheppard’s farm and following much the same routine as Forever Together, Informed Decision turned in two works at Gulfstream Park prior to arriving at Keeneland. In her career, the 4-year-old daughter of Monarchos has won five of seven starts and earned $336,587.

Informed Decision is scheduled to race April 9 in the $300,000 Vinery Madison (G1), a seven-furlong race on Polytrack for fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up. Her seven-furlong track-record time from the Raven Run is 1:20.86.


NOMINATIONS FOR FIVE STAKES CLOSE WEDNESDAY

Nominations close Wednesday for five stakes to be run on the second weekend of the Keeneland spring meeting.

Two of the five stakes that close will be run Friday, April 10, headlined by the Grade 1 Maker’s Mile Mile for 4-year-olds and up. The $300,000 grass event was won last year by Kip Deville. Also scheduled for April 10 is the $100,000 Fort Harrod for 4-year-olds and up to be run at a mile and five-eighths. The inaugural running in 2008 was won by Jade’s Revenge.

On April 11, three other graded stakes will be featured in addition to the spring’s marquee event, the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G1). They are the Grade 2 Commonwealth, worth $250,000, for 3-year-olds and up going seven furlongs; the $200,000 Grade 2 Jenny Wiley for 4-year-olds and up fillies and mares going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf; and, the $100,000 Grade 3 Shakertown for 3-year-olds and up going 5 ½ furlongs on the turf.

Rebellion (GB) won last year’s Commonwealth; Rutherienne gave trainer Christophe Clement his second Jenny Wiley victory and Mr. Nightlinger captured the Shakertown.


OPENING WEEKEND SPECIAL EVENTS

Friday, April 3
- College Scholarship Day - Presented by Keeneland and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. Full-time college students receive free general admission and may register to win a $1,000 scholarship to be given away after each race. The first 1,000 students to register for scholarships will receive a free Keeneland College Scholarship Day T-Shirt courtesy of Vineyard Vines.

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, children 3 and under free.

Sunday, April 5 - Saturday, April 11 - Best of the Bluegrass Festival - A festival of events saluting the Bluegrass region’s unique culture, from the arts to music to Thoroughbred racing. For more information, visit bestofthebluegrass.org.


KEENELAND WATCH LIST

Toyota Blue Grass (G1) Contenders

Horse Trainer Barn
Charitable Man Kiaran McLaughlin 1
Cliffy’s Future Darrin Miller 8
Flying Private D.Wayne Lukas Churchill Downs
General Quarters Thomas McCarthy Churchill Downs
Hold Me Back Bill Mott 25
Mafaaz (GB) John Gosden Churchill Downs (arrives 4/4)
Massone Ron McAnally 22 (arrives 4/5)
Patena Richard Dutrow Jr. 28 Worked 4 fur in :51.80 on 3/28 at Kee
Take the Points Todd Pletcher 6 (arrives 4/7)
Terrain Al Stall Jr. 66 Worked 4 fur in :48 on 3/29 at Kee
Unbridle’s Dream Steve Asmussen 36


Ashland (G1) Contenders

Horse Trainer Barn
Be Fair D. Wayne Lukas
Boleyn Todd Pletcher 6
Dream Empress Ken McPeek 32 Worked 5 fur in 1:02.60 on 3/28 at Kee
Hooh Why Donna Dupuy 22 Worked 4 fur in :49.60 on 3/30 at Kee
Nan Craig Dollase 5 (arrives 3/31)
Stardom Bound Richard Dutrow Jr. 28 Worked 6 fur in 1:12.60 on 3/29 at Kee
Third Dawn John Sadler 7 (arrives 3/31)
What a Pear Joe Parker (arrives 3/31)