Opening day is April 9
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 3, 2016) — Fox Hill Farms’ champion Songbird, winner of the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Keeneland in October, headlines an all-star list of 100 3-year-old fillies nominated to the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) on April 9, the opening day of Keeneland’s 2016 Spring Meet.
The 1 1/16-mile Central Bank Ashland has served as a springboard to success in the Kentucky Oaks, producing 32 winners of the classic, highlighted by Brereton C. Jones’ Lovely Maria in 2015. The Central Bank Ashland winner earns 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, and the next three finishers receive 40 points, 20 points and 10 points, respectively.
Songbird dominated the juvenile filly ranks in 2015, winning the Del Mar Debutante (G1), Chandelier (G1) and aforementioned Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on her way to being named champion 2-year-old filly. She opened her 2016 campaign with a 6½-length victory in the Las Virgenes (G2) on Feb. 6 at Santa Anita.
Cash Is King’s undefeated Cathryn Sophia, whose wins in the Forward Gal (G2) and Davona Dale (G2), both at Gulfstream, vaulted her to the top of the leaderboard on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, is another standout nominee to the Central Bank Ashland.
Twenty-one of the top 25 current point-earning fillies on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks were nominated to the Central Bank Ashland. They include: Rosemont Farm’s Venus Valentine, winner of the TwinSpires.com Rachel Alexandra (G2) on Feb. 20 at Fair Grounds; King of Prussia Stable’s Mo d’Amour, winner of the Busher Stakes on Feb. 27 at Aqueduct; Alpha Delta Stables’ Lewis Bay, winner of the Demoiselle (G2) and runner-up in the Davona Dale; Magdalena Racing’s Dothraki Queen, winner of the Pocahontas (G2); LNJ Foxwoods’ Nickname, winner of the Frizette (G1); Reddam Racing’s Gomo, winner of the Darley Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland; Three Chimneys Farm’s Carina Mia, winner of the Golden Rod (G2); and Stonestreet Stables’ Rachel’s Valentina, winner of the Spinaway (G1) and second to Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Multiple Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Todd Pletcher leads all trainers with 22 fillies nominated to the Central Bank Ashland. Steve Asmussen is second with eight nominees.
A late nomination period for the Central Bank Ashland closes March 23.
The Central Bank Ashland and Toyota Blue Grass anchor a blockbuster day of racing on April 9 when 11 races will be carded, including five stakes worth $2.25 million. The day’s race card also will feature the $300,000 Madison (G1) for older fillies and mares at 7 furlongs; $200,000 Shakertown (G2) for older horses at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and $250,000 Commonwealth (G3) for older horses at 7 furlongs on the dirt.
Post time for the first race on April 9 is 12:35 p.m. ET. Post time for the Central Bank Ashland is set for 5:20 p.m.
NBC Sports Network will highlight the stretch run of the Central Bank Ashland during its broadcast of the Toyota Blue Grass, Wood Memorial (G1) and Santa Anita Derby (G1) from 5-7 p.m.
For the first time, the Central Bank Ashland and Toyota Blue Grass will be part of a Pick 4 that includes the Wood Memorial and a fourth stakes from Aqueduct.
Keeneland’s 16-day Spring Meet, to be held April 8-29, offers racing Wednesday through Sunday. Post time for the first race is 1:05 p.m. ET except April 9 and April 16, when first post is 12:35 p.m.