Welcome to Keeneland. Happy Spring.
The Keeneland faithful spent the last two days apologizing for the weather – I told them, ‘don’t listen to the Florida sun chasers, if you’ve spent the winter in Pennsylvania, this is spring.’
Yes, finally spring. Finally Keeneland.
Handicapped the Ashland and parked myself next to Bobby Frankel for the Grade I filly stakes. Frankel had Country Star primed for her 3-year-old debut. The daughter of Empire Maker looked amazing in the paddock – that was the highlight. She reared up in the gate, broke fair, tried to stalk from the outside and fell off the bridle halfway down the backside.
“She isn’t doing any running,” Frankel said as she passed the half-mile pole. A man of succinct words, Frankel pretty much summed up the performance. She didn’t do any running.
Little Belle did all the running, upsetting the $500,000 stakes for Darley Stable, Kiaran McLaughlin and Rajiv Maragh. The former two have spent many days at Keeneland, the latter was making his first trip.
He’ll be back.
“Outrageous, the words can’t describe it, being my first time here,” Maragh said as he hurried back to the jocks’ room after the stakes. “I’ve ridden a few horses today and I wanted to get to the winner’s circle so bad because there’s such a great crowd. The atmosphere is awesome. My first reaction when they asked me to come here was, ‘I’m so thrilled.’ “Being here for the first time, I’m looking forward to one day in the future to spend the whole season here, I would never turn that down. It’s very good to be here.”