Spring Is On! Keeneland Opens Friday.

Apr 03, 2012 -- 7:32pm

Since ESPN 680 is your ONLY Big Game, Big Race place on the radio…where else would we be this Friday as Keeneland launches its Spring Meet.  We’re sending Bob Valvano to the farm to freshen up for a week so it’s ESPN stablemate Andy Sweeney that’ll be in the starting gate for us from 12:00n-3:00p in Lexington.

Want to win 50 of the tastiest dollars you’ll ever enjoy?

Opening day feature is $100,000 Transylvania Stakes.  Email your Transylvania Stakes winner to John@ESPNLouisville.com by 5:00p ET this Friday (April 6).  If you’re first in with the winner…you get $25 to The Sports & Social Club.  If you’re winner is 10-1 or higher, we’ll double your winnings to $50.

First run in 1989, the Transylvania Stakes is the first turf stakes of the year in Kentucky.  Compact field of seven has been entered.  Shane Sellers is the leading Transylvania Stakes rider w/four wins & Bill Mott has equaled those victories on the trainer’s side.  Neither are in this year’s race though.

Julien Leparoux returns to defend his Spring Meet riding title from last year.  He’s won or shared four of the last 6 Keeneland Spring Meet titles.  He’s also won two of the last 3 Transylvania runnings.  Monastic is his mount in Friday’s race for Tom Proctor.

Ken McPeek will be primed & ready to defend his Spring Meet trainers title from last year on his home track as well.  He’ll go with Saturday Launch in the Transylvania.

1.  State of Play 3-1 (Jorge Velazquez)…same owner, trainer & rider from last year’s Derby winning Animal Kingdom.   Won the grassy Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes in his second start last year at Saratoga.  Followed that up with awful 12thin Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs.  Derby fever saw him try $250,000 Sam Davis Stakes on dirt at Tampa Bay.  Faded to 7th& shipped north to win Turfway’s $100,000 Battaglia Stakes (on polyturf).  He passed the $500,000 Vinery Spiral Stakes there to try this one.  Should be pace factor.

2.  Wayward Sailor 12-1 (Alan Garcia)…he’s two-for-two on Gulfstream Park’s turf course & winless in four tries outside of Florida.  Last out, he was 9thof 11 to Icon Ike in Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds (while 10-1).  His most compelling feature is owner Ken Ramsey & sire Kitten’s Joy.  They routinely upset races like this at a price. 

3.  Travel Advisory 10-1 (Manny Cruz)…breaking your maiden in your fourth start (at Mountaineer Park) after failed efforts at Ellis Park & Kentucky Downs usually doesn’t scream “Keeneland stakes horse!”  He ran two lackluster races at Fair Grounds, then stormed home from far back to win grass allowance last out.  His other two grass tries were those early Ellis & Kentucky Downs starts, both second place tries while beaten less than a length.  If he recreates that last start, he’s a player at nice odds.

4.  Saturday Launch 6-1 (Jesus Castanon)…makes his 10thlifetime start.  His two tries this winter at Gulfstream were pretty legit.  He’s always shown up in grass races.  No reason to doubt he won’t be in the hunt late in this one either.  Leparoux won last out on him, but opts elsewhere for this one.

5.  Monastic 5-2 (Julien Leparoux)…has been favored in all five of his starts, only two wins on the resume though.  Ran a distant 10thlast year in his only stakes try (at Keeneland in Bourbon Stakes).  Finished third at 2-5 in allowance race at Tampa last out.  Lots of horses don’t like Tampa though & rebound next out.  He’s burned a lot of money, demand some value.  Leparoux wanting this mount says a lot.

6.  Silver Max 7-2 (Robby Albarado)…two wins & five seconds in eight starts (five of those tries when favored).   His only stinker was in the mud at Gulfstream when trying the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes.  Derby dreams tabled, he romped wire-to-wire last out at 3-5 with Leparoux up.  Rider jumps off that big effort to go with Monastic above.  With trainer Dale Romans going to New York this spring, as is Leparoux, that’s an interesting decision.  Albarado did ride him to a second place finish for maiden $50k claimers last July at Saratoga (on the dirt).

7.  Icon Ike 7-2 (Miggy Mena)…comes in off three straight turf wins at Fair Grounds (7-1, 3-1 & 11-1 odds too).  He’s unbeaten on grass after running pretty dull in his first three races on dirt & polyturf (at Keeneland) last October.  Won a 7 ½ furlong turf stakes around two turns last out beating Hero of Order (who won last Sunday’s Louisiana Derby paying $220).  Mena climbs aboard for the first time.  He had a really good Fair Grounds meet & trainer Larry Jones is always live with his horses.

And the ESPN 680 envelope please…(insert tearing sound here)…

With our $68 bankroll, we're going deep at a price w/$10 Win & Place bets on #2 Wayward Sailor ($20) & #3 Travel Advisory ($20).  We'll $1 exacta box 1-2-3-5 ($12) & $0.50 tri box 1-2-3-5 ($12).  With the remaining $4, a cold, frosty beverage will be procured. 

  

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