The Grade III Transylvania Stakes might not be the most glamorous of the 16 stakes races at the Keeneland Spring Meet, but the 11⁄16-mile turf test offers a slate of talent that has the potential to make headlines.
The 15-day meeting gets under way on Friday with a 10-race card anchored by the 22nd running of the Transylvania Stakes for 3-year-olds.
Though the purse for the Transylvania was reduced from $150,000 to $100,000 this season, the race still lured a wide-open field of nine, all seeking their first graded stakes triumphs.
The Dale Romans-trained Lost Aptitude comes into the race looking to get himself back on form after finishing 10th and last in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes in February, his first try over a dirt surface.
The son of Aptitude has been an impressive performer on his preferred turf, however, winning the 11⁄16-mile Grand Canyon Handicap by 51/4 lengths at Churchill Downs and getting beat a head while running second in the Grade III Tropical Park Derby on Jan. 1.
Carrying high weight of 123 pounds will be Ammerland Stud's Nordic Truce, who comes into the Transylvania undefeated in two career starts. The son of Yes It's True won the Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream in his 3-year-old debut on Jan. 16 but has yet to race beyond a mile.
The Transylvania is part of a stakes schedule worth $3.65 million this meet and is one of 15 graded stakes on Keeneland's slate.
The $400,000 Ashland Stakes on Saturday highlights the opening weekend and is one of four Grade I events scheduled.
As always, the star of the Keeneland Spring meet is its signature Kentucky Derby prep race, the Grade I, $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes on April 10. Barring a rash of late entries, the track's marquee race is expected to have a compact field this year of about six horses with Tampa Bay Derby winner Odysseus heading the list of probables.
Odysseus is expected to arrive at Keeneland on Sunday. Other probables for the Blue Grass include graded stakes winner Interactif, Aikenite, Make Music for Me, Codoy, and Paddy O'Prado.
Last year's Grade I Vinery Madison Stakes helped launch the championship campaign for Augustin Stable's Informed Decision, and the reigning Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint victor is a good bet to attempt to defend her title when the ninth running of the race is held on Thursday.
Multiple Grade I winner Court Vision is another top performer who could be in action during the meet. The 5-year-old son of Gulch, who captured the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last October, is among the nominees for the Grade I Maker's Mark Mile on April 9.