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Keeneland features Kentucky Derby runner-up
Posted: Thursday April 01, 1999 07:49 PM
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- The run-up to the Kentucky Derby comes to Keeneland starting Friday, with a 15-day spring meeting that includes an appearance by last year's 2-year-old champion filly, Silverbulletday, and the 75th running of the Blue Grass Stakes.
Silverbulletday meets five challengers in the opening weekend's top race, Saturday's Ashland Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
The Bob Baffert-trained winner of last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Silverbulletday has won five straight starts and eight of nine overall. She will be ridden by Jerry Bailey in Saturday's $500,000-added, 8 1/2-furlong race.
Coming off a victory in the Fair Grounds Oaks, Silverbulletday drew the No. 6 post position Thursday, and will carry 123 pounds to the 115 pounds being toted by the rest of the field.
One potential challenger is another Baffert-trained filly, Tout Charmant. She finished a neck behind Baffert's other 3-year-old filly star, Excellent Meeting, in the Santa Anita Oaks.
Excellent Meeting and Silverbulletday have both been mentioned as possible Kentucky Derby entrants, and Baffert has not ruled that out, though he said earlier this week that they are being pointed toward the April 30 Kentucky Oaks.
The rest of the field, from the rail out, with jockey for the Ashland Stakes: Marley Vale, Robby Alvarado; Gold From The West, Francisco Torres; Tout Charmant, Shane Sellers; Here I Go, Robby Davis; Waltz On By, Craig Perret.
The Blue Grass Stakes is April 10, three weeks before the Derby, and the field for the $750,000, nine-furlong race is shaping up as star-studded.
Among the expected entrants are Vicar, Wondertross and Cat Thief, who finished 1-2-3 in the March 13 Florida Derby. Others pointing toward the Blue Grass are Louisiana Derby winner Kimberlite Pipe and Prado's Landing, a Godolphin Stable contender who has trained in the United Arab Emirates.
Also a possibility is Answer Lively, winner of last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile and a runner-up in the Risen Star Stakes and the Louisiana Derby in his last two starts.
Trainer Carl Nafzger said the depth of the Blue Grass field has him wondering if he shouldn't have sent Vicar to Saturday's Santa Anita Derby.
"The Santa Anita Derby is a Grade III compared to this field," he said. "There's no doubt it's an easier spot than this one. But the Blue Grass Stakes should tell us something about the caliber of horses that are going to be in the Derby."
Four Blue Grass Stakes winners this decade have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby -- Unbridled, Strike The Gold, Sea Hero and Thunder Gulch.
The Lexington Stakes April 18 will be the choice for trainers and owners making last-minute decisions about whether to enter a horse in the Derby. Among the possible entrants are trainer Carlos Morales' Yankee Victor and Baffert's Straight Man, who faded badly in the stretch of Saturday's Gallery Furniture.com Stakes and finished fourth behind Stephen Got Even.
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