Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Swilcan Stable’s Vequist, whose victory in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Keeneland secured the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly for her, plus Grade 1 winners Dayoutoftheoffice and Simply Ravishing headline the 84 3-year-old fillies nominated to the 84th running of the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) on April 3, opening Saturday of Keeneland’s 2021 Spring Meet when the track also will run the $800,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) among six graded stakes worth $2.1 million.
The 1 1/16-mile Central Bank Ashland awards 100 points to the winner on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1). The next three finishers receive 40 points, 20 points and 10 points, respectively, to the $1.25 million race on April 30 at Churchill Downs.
Thirty-four fillies who raced in the Central Bank Ashland have won the Kentucky Oaks, including champion Monomoy Girl (2018), Cathryn Sophia (2016) and Lovely Maria (2015).
The Central Bank Ashland, the ninth race on April 3 with a 5:30 p.m. ET post, and the Toyota Blue Grass at 6:38 p.m. are part of Keeneland’s blockbuster 11-race card that day. Other stakes are the $300,000 Madison (G1) for fillies and mares at 7 furlongs on the dirt; $200,000 Appalachian (G2) Presented by Keeneland Select for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf; $200,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and $200,000 Commonwealth (G3) for older horses at 7 furlongs on the dirt.
Keeneland will offer a $500,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four and a $500,000-guaranteed All Stakes Pick Five that day.
Post positions for the Central Bank Ashland, Toyota Blue Grass and the other April 3 races will be drawn Tuesday, March 30.
Vequist, trained by Butch Reid, is a daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. In addition to her Breeders’ Cup victory, she won the Spinaway (G1). Vequist is third on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard behind Stonestreet Stables’ Clairiere and OXO Equine’s Travel Column.
Clairiere, trained by Steve Asmussen, won the recent Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds to grab the top spot. She and Stonestreet’s Pauline’s Pearl are nominated to both the Central Bank Ashland and the Toyota Blue Grass.
Trained by Brad Cox, Travel Column was second in the Rachel Alexandra in her 2021 debut after closing 2020 with a victory in the Golden Rod (G2) and a third-place finish in the Darley Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland.
Other leading Kentucky Oaks point earners who are nominated to the Central Bank Ashland are trainer Tim Hamm and Siena Farm’s Dayoutoftheoffice, who won the Frizette (G1) before finishing second to Vequist in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; Albaugh Family Stables’ Girl Daddy, who won the Pocahontas (G3) and was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; Harold Lerner, Magdalena Racing and Nehoc Stables’ Simply Ravishing, who won the Darley Alcibiades before finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; Brad King, Jim Cone, Scott Bryant and Stan and Suzanne Kirby’s Moon Swag, third in the Rachel Alexandra, and Shadwell Stable’s undefeated Malathaat, winner of the Demoiselle (G2).
McPeek, who conditions Simply Ravishing, leads all trainers by number of nominees to the Central Bank Ashland with eight.
The late nomination period for the Central Bank Ashland is Wednesday, March 17.