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Transylvania featured on Keeneland opener

Keeneland is located in the heart of Central Kentucky  (Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos.com)

Keeneland opens its spring meeting on Friday and will present 15 days of world-class Thoroughbred racing featuring some of the nation's richest purses, leading trainers and jockeys, and an exciting schedule of special events.

Highlighting Keeneland's 2010 spring season is the 86th running of the Blue Grass S. (G1) on April 10. NBC will present live coverage of the $750,000 race, one of the most prestigious leading up to the Kentucky Derby (G1), on its new "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series hosted by Lexington, Kentucky, native Tom Hammond. The program with the Blue Grass will air from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. (EDT) and includes the Arkansas Derby (G1) from Oaklawn Park.

The Blue Grass, first run in 1911 at the old Kentucky Association track near downtown Lexington, is a 1 1/8-mile race for three-year-olds that has been the springboard for 23 Kentucky Derby-winning horses. The Blue Grass also is the richest race of the year at Keeneland, which will offer $3.65 million in purses for 16 stakes races during the spring.

Post time for the first race each day is 1:05 p.m. Keeneland will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and on Easter Sunday, April 4.

The first half of the Keeneland meeting also features three other Grade 1 stakes: the $400,000 Ashland S. for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on April 3; the $300,000 Madison S. for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs on April 8; and the $300,000 Maker's Mark Mile for older horses at one mile on turf on April 9. The Ashland, the filly counterpart to the Blue Grass, is a major steppingstone to the Kentucky Oaks (G1), run at Churchill Downs the day before the Kentucky Derby.

Three-year-olds with Triple Crown aspirations also will compete in the Lexington S. (G2) on April 17. The 1 1/16-mile race is worth $300,000. The Lexington often falls in the midst of perfect spring weather, attracting enthusiastic crowds to Keeneland. Last year 33,680 fans, the second-largest single-day attendance in track history, was on hand for the race.

TVG will feature Keeneland racing each day beginning at 11 a.m. TVG also will broadcast the post position draw for the Blue Grass on April 7 from 11:30 a.m. to noon, and the Lexington on April 17 from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

As always, fans can watch Keeneland's races live on the track's website, keeneland.com, at no charge.

This spring, horseplayers will continue to find plenty of action at Keeneland. New is a 50-cent Pick Three wager in which a player must select the winner of three consecutive races. Other budget-conscious wagers include a 50-cent Pick Four and Trifecta wager as well as a 10-cent Superfecta.

Nine three-year-old colts and geldings will clash in Friday's opening feature, the $100,000 Transylvania S. (G3) over 1 1/16 miles on the turf. MACIAS (Purge), who invades from California for Bob Baffert, should attract plenty of support after victories in the Eddie Logan S. and Baffle S. over the winter, and a second last time to Blue Grass candidate Make Music for Me (Bernstein) in the Pasadena S. ALFARABI (Yes It's True), second in the Eddie Logan and third in the Pasadena, also comes east for Eoin Harty.

NORDIC TRUCE (Yes It's True), who made up 15 lengths to get his neck on the wire first in the January 16 Dania Beach S. at Gulfstream, will make just his third career start for Christophe Clement. Though he enters off a near three-month break, the bay won the Dania Beach off a two-month layoff. LOST APTITUDE (Aptitude) returns to the turf after trailing home in 10th in the Fountain of Youth S. (G2). He had won three of six turf attempts before that including the Grand Canyon H. at Churchill Downs, though he was second as the odds-on choice in the Tropical Park Derby two back and third in an allowance over the Keeneland turf in October.

Others of note are STRIKE THE TIGER (Tiger Ridge), best known as one of Wesley Ward's two Royal Ascot winners last June, and CALL SHOT (Tale of the Cat), a length third in the Dania Beach in his only turf appearance to date.


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