LEXINGTON, Ky. – John Oxley’s Grade 1 winner Spring in the Air will face 13 rivals Saturday in the 76th running of the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland, a Grade 1 event for three-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the main track at Keeneland.
The Central Bank Ashland, which also drew two also-eligibles, awards 170 points toward qualification for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks to be run May 3 at Churchill Downs with 100 points going to the winner.
The Central Bank Ashland will go as the ninth race on Saturday’s 10-race program with a post time of 5:13 p.m. (ET). First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.
Winner of the Darley Alcibiades here last fall, Spring in the Air will be attempting to become the fifth filly to sweep the Alcibiades and the Ashland.
The Darley Alcibiades, inaugurated in 1952, is the marquee fall event for 2-year-old fillies at Keeneland. Only Doubledogdare (1955), Optimistic Gal (1975), Silverbulletday (1998) and Take Charge Lady (2001) have come back the following spring after their Alcibiades triumphs to win the Ashland. Optimistic Gal and Silverbulletday went on to win the Kentucky Oaks after their Ashland victories.
Trained by Mark Casse, Spring in the Air made her 2013 debut on March 11 with a runner-up finish to stablemate and Central Bank Ashland rival Spring Venture in the OBS Championship (Filly Division) Stakes at Ocala, Florida. Patrick Husbands, who was aboard for the Darley Alcibiades triumph, has the call Saturday on Spring in the Air, who will break from post position 11.
Spring Venture, owned by Gary Barber and Stoneway Farm, is one of two other graded stakes winner in the field, having captured the Natalma Stakes on grass and the Mazarine Stakes on Polytrack in 2012 at Woodbine. Miguel Mena has the mount on Spring Venture and will break from post position four.
Augustin Stable’s Kitten’s Point, winner of the Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream in March, finished second in the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine here last fall. Trained by Graham Motion, Kitten’s Point will be ridden by Edgar Prado and break from post position seven.
Three rivals from the Darley Alcibiades are back to challenge Spring in the Air: runner-up Broken Spell, who is owned by Calumet Farm; third-place finisher Magical Moon, owned by Columbine Stable; and 11th-place finisher Kitten’s Dumplings, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Broken Spell, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, will be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr. and break from post position five. Magical Moon (Al Stall Jr.) will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik and exit post position 14 while Kitten’s Dumplings (Mike Maker) will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan and break from post position eight.
The field for the Central Bank Ashland, from the rail out, is as follows: Tuttipaesi (Alan Garcia), Nipissing (Steve Bahen), Private Ensign (Corey Lanerie), Spring Venture (Mena), Broken Spell (Rocco), Redressthebalance (Jesus Castanon), Kitten’s Point (Prado), Kitten’s Dumplings (Bridgmohan), Allanah (Norberto Arroyo Jr.), Every Way (James Graham), Spring in the Air (Husbands), Wave Theory (Julien Leparoux), Emollient (Mike Smith) and Magical Moon (Napravnik). Also-eligibles: Adriani (Joel Rosario) and Cash Is Queen (Robby Albarado). All starters will carry 121 pounds.