Keeneland spring meet offers Derby, Oaks preps

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Keeneland’s spring meet begins Friday with the weekend featuring the first of several preps for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.

Thirteen fillies are entered in Saturday’s $500,000 Central Bank Ashland for 3-year-olds awarding 170 points toward the May 2 Oaks at Churchill Downs. Testa Rossi is the 3-1 favorite in the Grade 1 feature that has served as a springboard to victory at the Oaks; 31 winners have come out of this race.

In all, 16 stakes races worth $3.725 million will be run during the 15-day meet, highlighted by the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass on April 12. The winner of Keeneland’s signature Grade I race earns 100 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings, all but guaranteeing a spot in the starting gate on May 3.

Friday’s $100,000 Transylvania opens a card that Keeneland vice president of racing W.B. Rogers Beasley believes is in line with the track’s goal of providing the country’s best racing.

Said Beasley, “We are exceptionally proud of this schedule and the exciting racing and wagering opportunities it offers our horsemen and fans.”

Two-time defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan is expected to make his season debut as a 7-year-old in the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile on April 11.

Two days later, Keeneland will host its annual Horses and Hope Pink Day to raise breast cancer awareness. Over 20 retired and active female jockeys, including those first allowed to ride in 1969, will be honored in the event.

Scheduled to attend is jockey Rosie Napravnik, who was the first woman to lead Keeneland’s fall meet last year and is the first to win the Oaks.

Fans will also get a chance to meet 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird on April 18 when he appears to promote “50 to 1,” the film profiling the longshot’s unlikely victory in the Triple Crown’s marquee race.

Friday is College Scholarship Day, with students admitted free with an ID. Full-time students can register to win one of 10 $1,000 scholarships and prizes from local vendors.

The track is closed April 20 for Easter.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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