Champion Stardom Bound bids for a sixth consecutive Grade I stakes victory as she preps for the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (GI) by facing eight rivals over the synthetic Polytrack surface in the $400,000 Ashland Stakes (GI) at 1 1/16-miles on Saturday at Keeneland.
The gray daughter of Tapit, who is coming off a nose victory in the Santa Anita Oaks, is American racing’s reigning 2-year-old filly champion. She is the favorite in the Ashland and will be saddled by trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. after Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel had overseen her training over the winter in Southern California. Regular jockey Mike Smith will ride Stardom Bound.
Another contender is Dream Empress, who won Keeneland’s Darley Alcibiades (GI) and finished second to Stardom Bound in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Santa Anita. The Ken McPeek trainee opened the year with a seventh-place finish on turf in Gulfstream’s Herecomesthebride (GIII).
Other Ashland contenders include unbeaten New York invader What A Pear and Herecomesthebride winner Gozzip Girl.
Stardom Bound will have a new co-owner for the Ashland. David Lanzman purchased 25 percent of the filly from owners IEAH Stable and partners earlier this week. Lanzman sold half-interest in his Kentucky Derby contender I Want Revenge to IEAH in a separate deal.
EVITA ARGENTINA WORKS, COULD AIM FOR OAKS – Halo Farms and Three Sisters Thoroughbreds’ Evita Argentina, a winner over males in Santa Anita’s San Vicente (GII), could take a shot at the Kentucky Oaks if all goes well in her next start in Wednesday’s Beaumont (GII) at Keeneland.
Trainer John Sadler’s stretch-running filly worked six furlongs over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface in 1:13.40 under exercise rider Dana Barnes.
“If she runs big in the Beaumont, we may stay for the big one,” Sadler said. “It would be a ‘being in the neighborhood’ kind of thing.”
SOUTH/RACHEL ALEXANDRA WORKS TOWARD OAKLAWN’S FANTASY
L & M Partners’ Golden Rod (GII) and Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner Rachel Alexandra looked sharp in hre final tune-up for Sunday’s $250,000 Fantasy Stakes (GII) at Oaklawn park with a sharp half-mile work on Wednesday over the Hot Springs, Ark. track.
The Hal Wiggins-trained daughter of Medaglia d’Oro breezed the distance in :47.60 under regular jockey Calvin Borel. The move was the fastest of 17 works at the distance.
Rachel Alexandra will be a heavy favorite against a likely field of five in the Fantasy. Wiggins said the race was target as her final prep for the Kentucky Oaks after consideration of other options that included a run in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland or training her up to the May 1 race.
“It’s four weeks before the Oaks, and that meant a lot to us,” Wiggins said. “We’ll just lead her out of her stall and go to the paddock. And all that played a part in it. If this was three weeks before the Oaks, we probably wouldn’t do it.”