Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) — Race 9 (5:30 p.m. ET)
The rising turf star Hit the Road will do just that when he makes his first start outside his Southern California base in Friday’s $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland. The son of More Than Ready enters the grass test on a four-race win streak, which includes back-to-back victories this season in the Thunder Road (G3) and Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita for trainer Dan Blacker, who was winning his first Grade 1 event in the March 6 Kilroe Mile.
The Maker’s Mark Mile is one of the rare top-level grass stakes that has so far eluded trainer Chad Brown, who sends out Raging Bull and Sacred Life to potentially rectify the situation. Multiple Grade 1 veteran Raging Bull was a beaten a neck in last year’s Maker’s Mark, which was held in July, and later finished second in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) prior to a finishing a dull 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
Scared Life, who won his only prior start over the Keeneland turf, had a brief campaign of just three starts last season. After a facile victory in the Oceanport S. at Monmouth Park in August, the French-bred disappointed in his final start of the season, finishing fourth as the favorite behind stablemate Digital Age in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
Trainer Mike Maker also saddles two candidates. Somelikeithotbrown hit his peak last summer winning the Bernard Baruch H. (G2) at Saratoga, but has not been out since finishing ninth of 10 in the Ft. Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream in December. Field Pass, a multiple Grade 3 winner at three last season, has also been idle since December, when finishing fourth in the Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) at Santa Anita.
Mark Casse, who trained War of Will to victory in this race last summer, will be represented by Ride a Comet, who’s four-race win streak was snapped after a seventh-place run in the Kilroe Mile. Get Smokin, over his last three starts, has won the Tampa Bay (G3) and Hill Prince (G2) and narrowly missed in the Hollywood Derby (G1) while the regally-bred Darain steps up in class for Brad Cox off of a Fair Grounds allowance win last month. The son of Dubawi is a full brother to multiple English highweight Too Darn Hot. The field is rounded out by longshot Flying Scotsman.
Limestone Turf Sprint — Race 7 (4:24 p.m. ET)
The supporting feature is the $100,000 Limestone Turf Sprint, which attracted a full field of three-year-old fillies to go 5 1/2 furlongs. The hot Wesley Ward barn will be represented by Campanelle, who captured the Prix Morny (G1) and Queen Mary (G2) in Europe last summer before finding a mile too far in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Ward will also saddle Carimba, who captured both of her starts last season at Indiana Grand
The talented field also includes stakes winners New Boss, Tobys Heart, and Alda, as well as the stakes-placed Goin’ Good, who captured her first two starts on the grass.