Ten of the graded stakes originally slated for Keeneland’s Spring Meet that was lost to COVID-19 will be run during the ad hoc Summer Meet set for July 8-12.
The action is concentrated on the weekend, with a pair of stakes apiece on Friday and Sunday bookending a six-stakes bonanza on Saturday. Highlighting that loaded card are the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) and companion Ashland Stakes (G1), respective stepping stones to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Oaks (G1). Adding to Saturday’s appeal, Keeneland is offering a $500,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 5 and $500,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 4.
Here’s a prospectus of the fields, according to Keeneland Stakes Coordinator Tiffany Bourque as of July 5:
Friday’s $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1)
Chad Brown’s duo of Raging Bull and Without Parole, the clear winner and short-of-room third from the Shoemaker Mile (G1), are set to renew rivalry. Also exiting that Santa Anita feature are War of Will, who was demoted from fifth to sixth for an incident at the start, and the hampered Next Shares, who somehow recovered to place second. Others expected are Gulfstream Park revelation Halladay, Emmaus, and Everfast, while Wise Dan (G2) near-misser English Bee, Diamond Oops, and Set Piece are listed as possible (like Next Shares).
Friday’s $100,000 Beaumont Stakes (G3)
Highly regarded Dogwood (G3) winner Four Graces tops the likely cast in this extended 7-furlong affair on the Beard Course, which offers Kentucky Oaks points on a 10-4-2-1 scale. Her stablemate from the Ian Wilkes barn, Turtle Trax, just chased Frank’s Rockette at Churchill Downs. California shipper Speech shortens up after a string of seconds to Swiss Skydiver, Gamine, and Donna Veloce. Allowance romper Sconsin, Finding Fame, and the possible Rising Seas would all be stepping up in class.
Saturday’s $600,000 Blue Grass Stakes
Kentucky Oaks points leader and Triple Crown nominee Swiss Skydiver could tackle males in the Kentucky Derby points race, including Lecomte (G3) winner Enforceable, who was third in last year’s Breeders’ Futurity (G1) here; Hopeful (G1) hero Basin, second in Charlatan’s Arkansas Derby (G1) division; Oaklawn S. victor Mr. Big News; Florida Derby (G1) runner-up Shivaree; Santa Anita Derby (G1) third Rushie; Finnick the Fierce, third in Nadal’s Arkansas Derby division; Attachment Rate, most recently fourth in the Matt Winn (G3); Churchill allowance winners Art Collector and Man in the Can; Hunt the Front; and Hard Lighting. Winning Impression was also under consideration, but according to Daily Racing Form was confirmed for Wednesday’s Indiana Derby (G3).
Saturday’s $400,000 Ashland Stakes
Trainer Ken McPeek told Keeneland publicity that he’d prefer to split up Swiss Skydiver and upwardly mobile allowance winner Envoutante: if the latter is ready to go in the Ashland, then Swiss Skydiver would be free to try the Blue Grass, but no decision will be made until Wednesday’s entry time. The Oaks prep promises to be a dandy, with Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) winner Bonny South, Davona Dale (G2) heroine Tonalist’s Shape, and Las Virgenes (G2) romper Venetian Harbor in the line-up. Tempers Rising, runner-up to Bonny South in New Orleans, is possible.
Saturday’s $350,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1)
Defending champion Rushing Fall could face two Horses of the Year – Brazilian import Jolie Olimpica is probable, and Canada’s Starship Jubilee is possible. Jolie Olimpica is one of three graded winners invading from Southern California, along with Toinette and Mucho Unusual. The recent Mint Julep (G3) might produce as many as four contenders – top two Secret Message and La Signare, fifth Altea, and sixth Juliet Foxtrot (possible).
Saturday’s $250,000 Madison Stakes (G1)
Multiple Grade 1 queen Guarana is poised to take on sprint specialists including Mia Mischief, eager to gain revenge on Bell’s the One who upset her in the May 30 Winning Colors (G3); Amy’s Challenge, who missed by a neck here last year; Sally’s Curlin; and Princess Causeway. The possibles are win machine Jean Elizabeth and Diamond Crazy.
Saturday’s $150,000 Shakertown Stakes (G2)
Bound for Nowhere, just denied in his title defense a year ago, bids to regain his crown in a super-competitive turf dash. Meydan record-smasher Wildman Jack, Texas Wedge, Shekky Shebaz, Extravagant Kid, Leinster, Real News, Totally Boss, Fast Boat, High Crime, Just Might, Tell Your Daddy, Tiger Blood and comebacker Sabador are expected, and Star of Kodiak is possible.
Saturday’s $150,000 Appalachian Stakes (G2)
Alms seeks to rebound from her first loss, a fifth behind Sharing in the Tepin S., where Walk In Marrakesh didn’t see much daylight in seventh and Outburst was an uncharacteristic 11th. French stakes scorer Mariafoot plans to make her U.S. bow for Cherie DeVaux, and Enola Gay and Ivyetsu round out the probables. Irish import Stela Star, Cat’s Pajamas, and Lucky Betty are possible.
Sunday’s $175,000 Elkhorn Stakes (G2)
Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) star Zulu Alpha, improved since his third here last year, is projected to meet California mainstay Oscar Dominguez; comebacker Nakamura, runner-up in last fall’s Sycamore (G3) at this course and 1 1/2-mile distance; Henley’s Joy; and a few from the recent Louisville H. (G3). Aside from the inconvenienced runner-up Arklow (possible), Louisville third through fifth He’s No Lemon, Ry’s the Guy, and Jais’s Solitude are on the list, as are stakes debutants Hierarchy and Hellorhighwater.
Sunday’s $100,000 Transylvania Stakes (G3)
Last-out War Chant S. winner Smooth Like Strait meets promising allowance scorers Vintage Print and Spanish Kingdom along with stakes veteran Irish Mias and Street Ready. Audubon S. runner-up Bama Breeze is possible, like Buy Me Candy and Mo Hawk.