Keeneland

Racing's stars on their way

There already are a host of quality horses on the grounds. Now, Keeneland is just hoping to produce an equally stellar meet.

Champions Stardom Bound and Forever Together are among the stars slated to grace the picturesque track with their presence over the next few weeks as Keeneland kicks off its 15-day Spring Meet on Friday.

Despite having to drop two stakes from its schedule and cut purses for a handful of others, Keeneland will still offer $3.8 million in purses for 17 stakes races, including four Grade I contests.

Highlighting Friday's opening card will be the Grade III Transylvania Stakes for 3-year-olds going 11⁄16 miles on the turf. The meet's first Grade I race takes place Saturday when Stardom Bound, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2008, faces eight rivals in the 11⁄16-mile Ashland Stakes.

The meet's signature race and one of the marquee preps on the Kentucky Derby trail, the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes, will be contested April 11.

Among the contenders likely to vie for the $750,000 race include Lane's End Stakes winner Hold Me Back, IEAH Stables' Patena, and Terrain, runner-up in last year's Grade I Lane's End Breeders' Futurity.

Forever Together, who earned the Eclipse Award for champion turf female, is slated to make her season debut in the Grade II Jenny Wiley Stakes, part of the undercard on Blue Grass Stakes day.

Forever Together captured the Grade I First Lady Stakes at Keeneland last October prior to winning the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf to cement her championship campaign.

"She likes the Polytrack; she likes the cooler weather," trainer Jonathan Sheppard said. "She likes the fact that we can take different routes to and from the track, and can take her outside for a nice graze in the afternoon."

The $300,000 Vinery Madison on April 9 and the $300,000 Maker's Mark Mile on April 10 are the other Grade I races on the Keene-land spring schedule.

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