Exotics Plays for the 2024 Transylvania Stakes

April 4th, 2024

The $400,000 Transylvania S. (G3) at Keeneland on Friday might be the most competitive domestic race that I have handicapped in some time, honestly. The 1 1/16-mile endeavor on the turf for three-year-olds features multiple horses who are rapidly improving, a pair of fine West Coast imports, a Florida-bred who has yet to be challenged on the lawn, a Godolphin import coming from Dubai, a Grade 2 winner on the course, a pair of horses on the also-eligible list than can win if they draw in, et al’s. So it’s a good time to take a swing! 

Transylvania Exotics

  • $2 exacta box 1,4,5,11,12 ($40)
  • 50-cent trifecta 12 with 1,4,5,11 with all ($20)
  • 50-cent trifecta 1,4,5,11 with 12 with all ($20)

#12 Cugino (10-1) finished a neck second behind a slow pace in the Colonel Liam S. at Gulfstream Park last time out and has run well in each lifetime appearance for Shug McGaughey. The Twirling Candy colt possesses tactical speed as well as a strong turn of foot in the lane, and the colt sizzled in a four-furlong morning drill leading up to this contest, as well. Regular pilot Javier Castellano will guide the sophomore. 

#5 Tennessee (15-1) has never run on the lawn, but the Brad Cox charge has improved in each lifetime performance and shows very good synthetic form leading up to this outing. This Justify colt, who brought $1.2 million at auction last spring, has multiple turf-winning siblings and seems like a natural fit on the surface. He is a huge number with Jose Ortiz riding. 

#4 Neat (10-1) has decimated his foes by a combined 13 1/4 lengths from three lifetime route tries on the lawn and would surely be the favorite in races similar to this one at another venue. The Rob Atras trainee has early speed and will never be far back with Reylu Gutierrez in the stirrups. 

Brian Lynch’s #1 Oscar's World (12-1) was a facile maiden winner on the Gulfstream turf two back and has upped his Brisnet Speed number in every career run to date leading up to his black-type debut. The Walmac Farm homebred had a very good prep for this when second with allowance foes on the All-Weather strip at Gulfstream Park and will save ground throughout with Luis Saez up. 

And #11 Full Nelson (8-1) hasn’t been beating the upper echelon of his generation, but the son of Lord Nelson has been winning in powerful fashion since moving to the green, and I can’t ignore his dominant run. Trained by Jose D’Angelo, the colt gets Irad Ortiz, Jr. and can adapt to any pace scenario.