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Keeneland opens with Transylvania

Keeneland is a boutique meet (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Keeneland begins its spring meet Friday with a 10-race program and the 15-day session will feature top horses from around the country, including reigning two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan. As always, the 90th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass, a springboard to the May 3 Kentucky Derby, serves as the centerpiece event. First race post time is 1:05 p.m. (EDT).

The Lexington, Kentucky track will offer 16 stakes worth a total of $3.725 million. Fifteen are graded, with half contested on turf, and the Grade 1 action kicks off Saturday with the $500,000 Ashland, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for three-year-old fillies.

The Ashland and Blue Grass are worth 100 points each to the winners on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks and Road to the Kentucky Derby, respectively.

The Blue Grass anchors a strong April 12 card that includes five graded events. A pair of Grade 1 races, the $300,000 Madison and $300,000 Jenny Wiley, will be offered on the undercard along with the $175,000 Commonwealth and $100,000 Shakertown.

The Grade 1, $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile takes place a day earlier (April 11) and the one-mile turf affair is expected to feature a title defense from Wise Dan, who established a new Keeneland record when recording his fifth graded stakes victory last spring.

Three stakes will held on April 19: the $200,000 Lexington for three-year-olds; $150,000 Ben Ali and $100,000 Giant's Causeway. The Ben Ali traditionally has been held the day after the Lexington but was moved this year due to Keeneland being dark on Easter Sunday, April 20.

The opening-day feature is the Grade 3, $100,000 Transylvania, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for three-year-olds. Grade 3 Generous winner Global View, runner-up to Bobby's Kitten when making his 2014 bow in a March 8 allowance at Tampa Bay Downs, is the top draw. Jose Lezcano rides for trainer Tom Proctor.

Other Transylvania contenders include multiple stakes hero Storming Inti, a close third most recently in the Grade 3 Palm Beach; Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club runner-up Laddie Boy, who will make his turf debut; Grade 3-placed Pleveun, who exits a fourth in the Palm Beach; and impressive maiden winner Picozza.

The spring meet kicks off with the always-popular College Scholarship Day on Friday and concludes April 25 with a concert by Lexington's own Laura Bell Bundy and Sundy Best. In between, Keeneland once again provides racing fans with activities and events for all ages, including the inaugural Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 19 as part of Sunrise Trackside.

Sunday is Military Day at the Races. Keeneland will honor all active and inactive members of the military and their families with free general admission with a military ID at any pass gate. The North Terrace will be transformed into the Military Family Zone with free food, live music, children's activities and more. Keeneland will welcome a special guest, U.S. Army Sgt. Dallas Robinson, for a meet and greet with fans. Robinson, a Kentuckian, was a member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team that competed in Sochi, Russia.

Click here for a complete listing of the Special Events Calendar.

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