One of the big highlights of the spring racing season is just a few weeks away. Keeneland’s Spring Meet opens up on Thursday, April 2 and runs through Friday, April 24. There will be a number of full cards to look forward to, but one of the races from the first weekend of action is one of the most highly-anticipated event of the stretch.
The $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) takes place on Saturday April 4, the 9th race on an 11-race card with a post time of 5:45 PM ET.
It’s a 1 1/16 mile race that will award 100 points to the winner on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. The top four finishers receive points, with 40, 20, and 10 the award for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places.
Nominations have been unveiled for the race, which is open to 3-year-old fillies. Bob Baffert leads the way in nominations for trainers with 10. All told, 90 horses have been nominated, highlighted by a pair that are in great shape to make it to the Oaks:
British Idiom: Undefeated as a two-year-old filly and recipient of the Eclipse Award. Winner of Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last October.
Finite: Currently the top points getter for the Oaks. Winner of the Rachel Alexandra (G2) earlier this month.
Several other fillies who are currently in the Top 10 on the Race to the Oaks leaderboard have also been nominated, including:
Donna Veloce: Runner-up for Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies and Starlet.
Lake Avenue: Winner of Godolphin’s Demoiselle (G2).
Tonalist’s Shape: Winner of Forward Gal (G3).
Wicked Whisper: Winner of Frizette (G1).
This will be the 83rd running of the race. An impressive 34 fillies who have won the Ashland have also gone on to win the Oaks. Monomoy Girl was the most recent to turn the trick back in 2018. Post positions for this year’s edition will be drawn on Wednesday, April 1.
The first Saturday of the spring meet features several other top races. Here’s a look at the other highlights on the 11-race card.
$1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2): Top prep race for Kentucky Derby.
$300,000 Madison (G1): 7-furlong dirt race for mares and fillies.
$250,000 Commonwealth (G3): 7 furlongs on the dirt for older horses.
$200,000 Shakertown (G2): 5.5 furlongs on turf for three-year-olds and older.
As for the betting menu on the opening Saturday, there’s also a pair of highlights for horse players to look forward to. Keeneland will be offering an All-Stakes Pick Four with a guarantee of $400,000, as well as an All-Stakes Pick Five with a guarantee of $300,000.
It shapes up to be an exciting and eventful card and a great way to open up what should be a great spring meet. For opening day on April 2, post time is 3 PM ET. For the remainder of the meet, the action gets underway at 1:05 PM ET.
After the first weekend, the racing gets back underway on Wednesday, April 8. From that point, cards will be held on Wednesday through Sunday for the duration of the meet, but there will be no races run on April 12, Easter Sunday.
In addition, Keeneland will be holding a Two-Year-Olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age Sale on Tuesday, April 7. Available horses will be on display on dirt or turf on Preview Day, which will be held on Monday., April 6.
For those looking to watch and wager, TVG intends to make Keeneland a focal point of its coverage for the duration of the spring meet.