A blockbuster opening Saturday of Keeneland will, of course, feature the Blue Grass (G2) and Ashland (G1), but also three graded stakes pitting many of the best sprinters in the country against one another. Here’s a quick rundown of the main contenders.
8TH RACE: $300,000 MADISON (G1)
Reigning champion female sprinter Shamrock Rose, a fine third behind Midnight Bisou and Elate in last month’s Azeri (G2) when stretched out to 1 1/16 miles, shortens up to seven furlongs here as she seeks her first win since an upset score in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) in November. She won the Raven Run (G2) over this track and seven-furlong trip last November.
Late Night Pow Wow enters with 11 wins from 12 starts in West Virginia and Maryland, the latter being a neck score over La Brea (G1) heroine Spiced Perfection in the Barbara Fritchie (G3) at Laurel. Amy’s Challenge, meanwhile, dominated a pair of stakes at Oaklawn over the winter and looks to improve on her sixth in the Raven Run when last seen here.
America’s Tale has won four of her past five, including an upset victory in the Inside Information (G1) last time.
6TH RACE: $300,000 COMMONWEALTH (G2)
Defending titlest Warrior’s Club, who upset Limousine Liberal by a neck at 23-1 last year, will have to overcome post 13 in the full field of 14 for this seven-furlong dash. He enters off a second in a one-mile allowance prep at Oaklawn, while Limousine Liberal comes in fresh having last run fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in November
Recruiting Ready stretches out a furlong after beating an overmatched field in the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3), while General George (G3) victor Uncontested is two-for-two since joining the Jennifer Patterson barn. Golden Gate win machine Richiesinthehouse will try his hand on dirt for the first time, while Bobby’s Wicked One, Runaway Ghost, and New York Central all showed promised as sophomores last term.
7TH RACE: $200,000 SHAKERTOWN (G2)
Bound for Nowhere used a win in this 5 1/2-furlong turf event last year as a stepping stone to a narrow loss in the Diamond Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot. Third in this event last year, divisional mainstay Disco Partner could fare better with firmer course conditions expected.
Imprimis enters off a monster score in the $75,000 Silks Run at Gulfstream, running five-eighths in :54 and change. Richard’s Boy and Will Call also figure to be in the mix on their best form.