Joel Politi’s recent Rachel Alexandra (G2) winner Serengeti Empress, the leading point earner on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1), and D. J. Stable and Cash is King’s Jaywalk, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2018, lead the accomplished 3-year-old fillies nominated to the 82nd running of the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) on April 6, opening Saturday of Keeneland’s 2019 Spring Meet.
Thirty-four fillies who raced in the 1 1/16-mile Central Bank Ashland have won the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, including three of the past four Oaks winners: champion Monomoy Girl (2018), Cathryn Sophia (2016) and Lovely Maria (2015).
The 1 1/16-mile Central Bank Ashland awards 100 points to the winner on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. The next three finishers receive 40 points, 20 points and 10 points, respectively.
Click here for a list of the 99 Central Bank Ashland nominees, and click here for their past performances. Post positions for the Central Bank Ashland and the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2), a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby (G1) also being run April 6, will be drawn Wednesday, April 3.
The Central Bank Ashland and Toyota Blue Grass are part of Keeneland’s spectacular 11-race card on April 6 that will present five graded stakes worth $2.25 million. The Central Bank Ashland is the ninth race with a 5:45 p.m. ET post followed by the Toyota Blue Grass at 6:23 p.m.
TVG will provide live, enhanced coverage of the Central Bank Ashland and all Keeneland stakes.
Other stakes are the $300,000 Madison (G1) for fillies and mares at 7 furlongs on the dirt; $200,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and $250,000 Commonwealth (G3) for older horses at 7 furlongs on the dirt.
That day, Keeneland will offer a $400,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four and a $300,000-guaranteed All Stakes Pick Five.
Serengeti Empress, who has 60 points to top the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard, is a graduate of two Keeneland sales. She sold for $25,000 as a weanling at the 2016 November Breeding Stock Sale and was purchased by Politi for $70,000 as a yearling at the 2017 September Sale.
Last year, Serengeti Empress won the Ellis Park Debutante before taking the Pocahontas (G2) at Churchill. She made her 3-year-old debut in the Feb. 16 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds for trainer Tom Amoss.
Jaywalk, who has 30 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, sold to trainer John Servis, agent, for $190,000 at the 2017 September Sale. Last year, the daughter of Cross Traffic won the White Clay Creek Stakes at Delaware Park before capturing the Frizette (G1) at Belmont and Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill.
Jaywalk is expected to make her 2019 debut in Saturday’s Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream.
Co-owner Cash is King won the Central Bank Ashland with Cathryn Sophia.
Following Jaywalk on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 22 points is Three Chimneys Farm and Fern Circle Stables’ Restless Rider, winner of Keeneland’s 2018 Darley Alcibiades (G1). Sold to her owners for $150,000 at the 2017 September Sale, the Distorted Humor filly was second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Spinaway (G1) and Golden Rod (G2).
The next 12 leading point earners on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks also are nominated to the Central Bank Ashland: Edward A. Seltzer and Beverly S. Anderson’s Eres Tu, third in the Rachel Alexandra; Summer Wind Equine’s 2018 Starlet (G1) winner Chasing Yesterday, a half-sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah; Michael J. Ryan’s 2018 Demoiselle (G2) winner Positive Spirit, a half-sister to 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming; Howling Pigeon Farms, Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Madaket Stables’ 2018 listed stakes winner Needs Supervision; Klaravich Stables’ Forward Gal (G3) winner Feedback; Gary Barber’s Martha Washington Stakes (L) winner Power Gal (JPN); Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing’s Suncoast Stakes (L) winner Point of Honor; Repole Stable’s Busanda Stakes winner Always Shopping; Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Donna Daniell and Jim Daniell’s Vibrance, second in the 2018 Chandelier (G1) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; Enaya Racing’s Enaya Alrabb, second in the Las Virgenes (G2) and 2018 Starlet; George Bolton, Barry Hall, Barry Lipman, Mark Mathiesen and Andrew Molasky’s Grade 1-placed stakes winner Mother Mother, second in the Santa Ynez; and Uriah St. Lewis’ Demoiselle runner-up Afleet Destiny.
Kiaran McLaughlin leads all trainers by nominees to the Central Bank Ashland, with eight. He won the race in 2008 with Little Belle.
The late nomination period for the Central Bank Ashland is Wednesday, March 20.
Keeneland’s 16-day Spring Meet runs Thursday, April 4, through Friday, April 26. The season will open a day earlier than in recent years with a first post of 3 p.m. for the eight-race card, which includes the inaugural running of the $100,000 Palisades Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds at 5½ furlongs on the turf.
For the remainder of the season, first post is 1:05 p.m.
Racing will be held Wednesday through Sunday, except Easter Sunday, April 21, when Keeneland is closed.
After the four-day opening weekend, action will shift to Keeneland sales with the resumption of the April Two-Year-Olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age Sale on Tuesday. April 9.
Preview Day, on which cataloged horses will work on dirt or turf, is Monday, April 8.