â€¢ PLETCHER SCHEDULES SUNDAY WORK FOR TOYOTA BLUE GRASS WINNER CARPE DIEM â€¢ UNITARIAN GOES FOR REPEAT IN SATURDAYâ€™S DIXIANA ELKHORN
PLETCHER SCHEDULES SUNDAY WORK FOR TOYOTA BLUE GRASS WINNER CARPE DIEM
Trainer Todd Pletcher has spent the past couple of days at Keeneland checking out the barn that has produced a meet-leading seven victories with three stakes wins.
Included in the Keeneland contingent is Toyota Blue Grass (G1) winner Carpe Diem, one of five Pletcher horses that have a chance to appear in the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). Three of the horses â€“ Materiality, Stanford, Itsaknockout â€“ are in Florida.
Madefromlucky, fourth in Saturdayâ€™s Arkansas Derby (G1), arrived at Keeneland Monday after flying into Louisville.
Carpe Diem has been on the track when it first opens in the morning or at the end of training hours.
â€œHe has looked very good,â€ Pletcher said. â€œHe has handled the moisture in the track very well and I applaud Keeneland for having a terrific track.â€
Pletcher, who has won the Toyota Blue Grass three times, plans to work Carpe Diem here Sunday morning with the ship date to Churchill Downs to be determined.
â€œHe likes a quiet environment and he is doing so well here. We will play that by ear,â€ said Pletcher, who plans to ship the remainder of his Derby prospects to Louisville next Tuesday along with Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) hopefuls Angela Renee, who is at Keeneland, and Eskenformoney, who is in Florida.
â€œAngela Renee will work here in the morning,â€ Pletcher said of the runner-up in the Central Bank Ashland (G1). â€œMy plan is to be in Florida for Eskenformoneyâ€™s work Friday, the colts on Saturday and then be back here Sunday for Carpe Diem.â€
In addition to the Derby and Oaks, Pletcher plans to be a major player in most of Churchillâ€™s other 11 graded stakes that weekend particularly with horses that have run here this meet.
â€œWe have not ruled out the Woodford Reserve (Turf Classic, G1) with Jack Milton,â€ Pletcher said of the winner of the Makerâ€™s 46 Mile (G1). â€œ(Grade 1 Madison runner-up) Stopchargingmaria is headed to the La Troienne (G1) and (Grade 3 Ben Ali winner) Protonico for the Alysheba (G2).
â€œThe Alysheba would be a prep for the Stephen Foster (Handicap, G1) to be run June 13. He likes Churchill and either we run back on short rest or wait two months.â€
UNITARIAN GOES FOR REPEAT IN SATURDAYâ€™S DIXIANA ELKHORN
Robert Evansâ€™ Unitarian will attempt to become the fourth horse to win the Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) in consecutive years Saturday when he faces 10 rivals in the 30th running of the $250,000 event at 1Â½ miles on the turf.
The Dixiana Elkhorn will go as the ninth race on Saturdayâ€™s 10-race program with a 5:13 p.m. ET post time. First post Saturday is 1:05 p.m.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Unitarian comes into the Dixiana Elkhorn off a victory in the two-mile H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 31. Javier Castellano, who was aboard that day and also for the Dixiana Elkhorn triumph last year, has the riding assignment Saturday and will break from post position four.
The other back-to-back winners of the Dixiana Elkhorn are African Dancer (1998-1999), Kim Loves Bucky (2002-2003) and Musketier (GER) (2010-2011).
In Unitarianâ€™s most recent Keeneland race, he was fifth in the Sycamore (G3), the Fall Meetâ€™s equivalent of the Elkhorn. The winner that day was Augustin Stableâ€™s Holiday Star, who will make his 2015 debut Saturday.
Trained by Graham Motion, Holiday Star will break from post position six under Rajiv Maragh.
The field for the Dixiana Elkhorn, from the inside out, is as follows: Dramedy (Joe Bravo, 118 pounds), Biz The Nurse (IRE) (Luis Saez, 118), My Afleet (Joe Rocco Jr., 118), Unitarian (Castellano, 118), Cary Street (Paco Lopez, 120), Holiday Star (Maragh, 118), Javaâ€™s War (James Graham, 118), Optimizer (Corey Lanerie, 118), Aldous Snow (Jose Lezcano, 118), Dynamic Sky (Julien Leparoux, 118) and Xtra Luck (Brian Hernandez Jr., 118).
DECEPTIVE VISION RETURNS TO THE DIRT FOR 2015 DEBUT IN FRIDAYâ€™S HILLIARD LYONS DOUBLEDOGDARE
Sam-Son Farmâ€™s Deceptive Vision has not raced on dirt since February 2013 at Fair Grounds, but on the dirt is where she will be Friday when she makes her 2015 debut in the Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (G3) at 1 1/16 miles.
â€œSheâ€™s a very nice filly and she won twice on the dirt in New Orleans,â€ trainer Malcolm Pierce said. â€œShe performs equally well on both turf and dirt and I figured this was a little easier spot than the (April 11) Jenny Wiley, which was a Grade 1.
â€œI had two spots in mind and opted for the dirt.â€
John Velazquez will ride the 5-year-old Canadian-bred mare for the first time Friday in what Pierce hopes will be the kick off to a huge year on the grass.
â€œ(Woodbine has) a pretty good turf series that starts at the end of May,â€ Pierce said. â€œI would like to get three races in at Woodbine to be eligible for a Sovereign Award.â€
Pierce has another Sam-Son runner slated for a 2015 debut on Saturday with Aldous Snow in the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) at 1Â½ miles on the turf.
â€œThe weather is really against us,â€ Pierce said referring to a stormy forecast for the next couple of days in the Lexington area. â€œHe doesnâ€™t like soft turf; with him, the firmer the better.â€
UPCOMING STAKES PROBABLES
$150,000 Bewitch (G3) (Entries taken Tuesday, April 21, race on Friday, April 24) â€“ Anipa (GB), Antonia Autumn, Appealing Cat, Caroline Thomas, Danza Cavallo (FR), Kittenâ€™s Point, Maximova, Meri Shika (FR), Samiam, Stellaris, Super Sky, Tabreed (GB), Tuttipaesi (IRE), White Rose.
â€ƒ SPRING MEET LEADERS
Through April 12 (seven days of racing)
Jockey Starts Wins 2nd 3rd Purses
Javier Castellano 35 9 3 3 $685,111
Shaun Bridgmohan 25 5 5 0 $254,251
Brian Hernandez Jr. 25 5 2 5 $223,036
Julien Leparoux 33 4 6 4 $673,283
John Velazquez 19 4 5 4 $984,000
Jose Lezcano 24 4 2 3 $225,335
Rajiv Maragh 7 4 0 0 $266,970
Trainer Starts Wins 2nd 3rd Purses Todd Pletcher 18 7 5 1 $1,238,853 Kiaran McLaughlin 10 6 0 0 $264,358 Mark Casse 16 3 5 0 $341,223 Wesley Ward 16 3 4 2 $153,589 Larry Jones 10 3 3 1 $454,167 Mike Maker 11 3 2 0 $108,638 Chad Brown 12 3 1 2 $319,422
Owner Wins Godolphin Racing LLC (Lessee) 6 Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey 4 Brereton C. Jones 2 Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf et al) 2