Keeneland saw the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes raced under gorgeous blue skies — while a crowd of 32,610 watched longshot Irap prevail in the track’s signature $1 million race.
The total attendance fell short of the record 40,617 persons who attended Keeneland for the 2012 Blue Grass Stakes, despite the presence in the field of highly rated Kentucky Derby prospect, McCraken (who ran third as favorite). Previous high attendance figures set on Blue Grass Stakes day included 39,722 in 2014; 37,161 in 2013 and 33,727 in 2010.
Casse goes back-to-back
Live Oak Plantation of Ocala, Fla., took down a double in Keeneland graded stakes Saturday. The Mark Casse-trained pair of winners scored back-to-back in the $250,000 Commonwealth Stakes (Awesome Slew) and the $200,000 Shakertown Stakes (Holding Gold).
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Joel Rosario rode both winners for Live Oak owner Mrs. Charlotte C. Weber.
In the Grade 3 Commonwealth, Awesome Slew came widest at the top of the stretch, powered past three leaders and in the final strides and wore down A. P. Indian to win by 1 1/2 lengths. In the Shakertown, Holding Gold held off Green Mask by a neck to take the win in the Grade 2 event at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.
Awesome Slew is a 4-year-old son of Awesome Again and went postward the second choice to A. P. Indian, rewarding backers with a payoff of $8.20, $4, and $2.80. He raced the 7 furlongs on dirt in 1:22.31 in his fourth career victory. His stablemate, Holding Gold, a longer betting choice, paid $38.20, $14.60 and $7.60. Holding Gold is a 4-year-old son of Lonhro who also was getting his fourth career win.
In the $300,000 Madison Stakes the Juddmonte Farms of Khalid Abdullah combined with trainer Chad Brown and jockey Jose Ortiz to win the Grade I stakes with Paulassilverlining. Juddmonte Farms has been experiencing a stellar season, particularly with Arrogate winning the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup.
Paulassilverlining raced fourth to the head of the stretch, came straight on through a clear opening and dueled down the middle of the track with Constellation to hold off that one by a neck. The 5-year-old mare by Ghostzapper went postward the favorite, returning $5.60, $3.20 and $2.60. Paulassilverlining was notching her ninth career victory and with the winner’s purse of $180,000, sent her earnings to $1,188,950.
Dancing Rags returns
Dancing Rags has an affinity for Keeneland, as demonstrated last fall when she won the Darley Alcibiades Stakes. The filly returns Sunday to contest the $150,000 Adena Springs Beaumont (Grade 3), the final race in Kentucky on the points-driven Road to the Kentucky Oaks. A win in the Adena Springs could vault Dancing Rags into the Oaks field May 5 if her stable chooses to send her.
Dancing Rags finished eighth last November in the Breeders’ Cup. This will be her first start since that time. She will face a field of seven including Sweet Loretta, 11th in the Breeders’ Cup, also making her season’s debut. The fillies will race over the Beard Course of 7 furlongs and 184 feet.
The Beaumont Field also includes Laney, My Miss Chiff, Trevle, Sine Wave, and Promises Broken.