LEXINGTON, Ky. – A total of 134 fillies, led by champion Beholder, have been nominated to Keeneland’s $500,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1), scheduled for Saturday, April 6. The total number of fillies nominated during the early closing period represents a 67 percent increase over 2012.
Contested at 1 1/16 miles, the Central Bank Ashland historically has been a premier prep for the Kentucky Oaks. It is featured as the first of five Grade 1 stakes run during Keeneland’s spring race meeting, to be held April 5-26.
Beholder, champion juvenile filly and winner of the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, vaulted to the top of the leaderboard on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks with her March 2 win in the Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita.
Other fillies nominated to the Central Bank Ashland with top-10 point rankings on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks are Unlimited Budget (winner of the Rachel Alexandra), Live Lively (Davona Dale), Dreaming of Julia (Frizette), and Fiftyshadesofhay (Santa Ysabel). Another notable nominee is 2012 Darley Alcibiades winner Spring in the Air.
Todd Pletcher nominated 15 fillies to lead all trainers, followed by Graham Motion with nine. Bob Baffert and Kiaran McLaughlin are each represented by seven nominees.
Since 1936, 31 fillies have used the Ashland as a steppingstone to victory in the Oaks, most recently Ashado (2004), Summerly (2005) and Proud Spell (2008). In 2010, Central Bank Ashland winner Evening Jewel lost the Oaks by a nose to champion Blind Luck following a thrilling stretch duel between the fillies.
Alex G. Campbell Jr.’s Karlovy Vary won the 2012 Central Bank Ashland in gate-to-wire fashion, giving trainer Rusty Arnold and jockey James Graham their first victory in the race.