Superior Field Assembles in Grade 1 Madison Stakes
Category : News
Thu 07/04/2016 - 01:23 EDT
The Grade 1, $300,000 Madison Stakes features a stellar field April 9 at Keeneland as 13 fillies and mares are set to contest the seven furlong event on the main track.
So tough is the field, that last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Stopchargingmaria is listed as the lukewarm 7/2 favorite on the morning line. Unquestionably, the Todd Pletcher trainee has found a very difficult spot for her return, making her first start since winning the aforementioned BC Distaff October 30. The five year-old mare surely prefers more distance, but has finished second in two career starts at the seven furlong trip, including by a half length in last year’s Madison.Pletcher connects at a 23% clip with runners coming back from layoffs of 61-180 days and the champ has proven her affinity for the Keeneland surface. Breaking from post 12 under regular rider Javier Castellano, Stopchargingmaria should get an ideal stalking trip if able to shake the racing rust.
BC Filly & Mare Sprint winner returns
9/2 second choice Wavell Avenue is another Keeneland Breeders’ Cup winner returning for her 2016 debut. The five year-old Chad Brown trainee was a surprise winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint October 31 at the same seven furlong trip. Brown also excels with runners coming back from 61-180 days, connecting at an astounding 28%. The hotter the early pace, the better for this mare’s late-running style. Julien Leparoux will be in the irons replacing winning Breeders’ Cup rider Joel Rosario.
Square price on top-class mare
Sheer Drama (12/1) is another comebacker after finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff behind Stopchargingmaria. The David Fawkes trainee may actually be better suited for seven panels despite running at more classic distances last year. This mare represents quality at a fair price.
There will always be Kentucky Derby entrants that would be much better suited to skip the race entirely and find a better spot if not for the gusto of their well-meaning owners, but the Road to the Derby point qualifying system has been remarkably efficient at making the race more of a level-playing field since its inception four years ago.
On Saturday at Keeneland, the featured race is the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes. Scheduled to be run at one mile on the turf, the Grade 2 event has drawn a field of eight colts and geldings.
With a largely underwhelming, and thus far, slow, group of three year-olds set to contest the 2016 Kentucky Derby, logical handicappers searching for a pick outside of the undefeated and likely highly-favored Nyquist may have already begun the hand-wringing process.
On Friday at Oaklawn Park, the featured race is the $600,000 Apple Blossom Stakes. Restricted to fillies and mares, the Grade 1 event will be contested at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track and has drawn a field of six.