LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Keeneland's 16-day spring meet opens Friday with a major Kentucky Derby prep highlighting a slate of stakes races.
The marquee event is the $750,000 Grade I Toyota Blue Grass for 3-year-olds on April 13. Nineteen winners of the 1 1/8-mile race have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby; this year's champion will earn 100 points in the series leading up to the 139th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 4.
Wise Dan, the 2012 Horse of the Year, is expected to make his 2013 debut in the Grade I $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile on Keeneland's turf April 12.
Saturday's feature is the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile, Grade I race for fillies will award 170 total points toward the May 3 Kentucky Oaks.
The Central Bank Ashland field features several strong contenders.
Tuttipaesi was Thursday's 4-1 favorite. She brings in a New Year's Day win in the Ginger Brew Stakes and a third in last month's Herecomesthebride Stakes, both at Gulfstream Park. Trained by H. Graham Motion, she has four wins and two third-place finishes in seven career starts.
Herecomesthebride winner Kitten's Point (5-1) is the second choice along with Spring Venture. Edgar Prado will ride Kitten's Point, who has two wins, two seconds and a 12th at last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on her career resume.
Spring Venture and Spring In The Air (8-1), trained by Mark E. Casse for different owners, have both made impressive starts.
Spring Venture won last month's OBS Championship at Ocala (Fla.) Training Center and has four triumphs in six career starts. Spring In The Air was second in that race, one of three runner-up finishes along with two wins and a fifth in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Friday's feature is the $100,000 Grade III Transylvania Stakes.