Keeneland Opening Day: Champion Just F Y I Headlines Ashland

Just F Y I

On Friday (April 5), opening day at Keeneland, eight 3-year-old fillies will assemble for the $600,000 Ashland Stakes (G1), all vying to earn points to qualify for the nation’s premier filly race, the $1.5 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) four weeks hence.

The Ashland is one of 19 stakes at Keeneland’s spring meet, which runs 16 days through April 26, and is followed on Saturday by the $1 million Blue Grass (G1), a key qualifier for the Kentucky Derby (G1).

The Ashland Stakes on Opening Day at Keeneland is one of 19 stakes on tap during the spring meet

Also on opening day are the $400,000 Transylvania (G3) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, and the $400,000 Lafayette for 3-year-olds going 7 furlongs.

Undefeated champion Just F Y I will be making her first start of 2024 in the 1 1/16-mile Ashland, the first Grade 1 race of the year for sophomore fillies. The Ashland offers the first five finishers 100-50-25-15-10 points toward the Oaks, with its field limited to 14 starters.

On Saturday, two other Oaks qualifiers will be run, the $200,000 Gazelle (G3) at Aqueduct and the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G2), with all three offering 100-50-25-15-0 points to the first five finishers.

Kinza, trained by Bob Baffert, is the favorite in a field of five in the Santa Anita Oaks; Gin Gin and Barbratina, both trained Brad Cox, top the field for the Gazelle.

Just F Y I was undefeated in three starts at age 2, capped by her narrow victory over Jody’s Pride in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) five months ago. Before that, she won the Frizette (G1) by 3 ¾ lengths following her maiden victory at Saratoga in August for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

Ashland Stakes Field Features Renowned Jockeys and Trainers

Junior Alvarado, who has been aboard for all of Just F Y I’s starts, has the mount Friday.

Returning from the Juvenile Fillies Jody’s Pride, who ran out of room trying to catch Just F Y I and missed by a neck in her first defeat after three victories, and Candied, who was another neck back in third.

Jody’s Pride

Jody’s Pride will have Flavien Prat in the irons while Candied will be piloted by Luis Saez.

In her first start of 2024, the Jorge Abreau-trained Jody’s Pride was an easy winner of the Busher at Aqueduct, while Candied, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, will be making her 3-year-old debut, having won the Alcibiades (G1) prior to the Breeders’ Cup.

Pletcher will also be saddling Leslie’s Rose, third as the favorite in the Davona Dale (G2) on March 2 at Gulfstream Park. She will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Favored at 2-1 in the Ashland is the Brad Cox-trained Impel, who will be making her third start of the year under Florent Geroux. She debuted on New Year’s with a 3 ¼-length maiden win going 6 furlongs and followed that with an 8½-length allowance victory at 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park on March 3.

The picks: 1 Candied 2 Jody’s Pride 3 Just F Y I

The field for the $600,000 Ashland Stakes (G1), from the rail out, with jockey, trainer, morning line odds:

1 Candied (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher), 6-1

2 Standoutsensation (Edgar Morales, Tom Amoss), 30-1

3 Leslie’s Rose (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Todd Pletcher), 4-1

4 Halina’s Forte (Tyler Gaffalione, Philip Bauer), 8-1

5 Shimmering Allure (Brian Hernandez, Jr., Ken McPeek), 10-1

6 Just F Y I (Junior Alvarado, Bill Mott), 3-1

7 Impel (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox), 3-1

8 Jody’s Pride (Flavien Prat, Jorge Abreu), 8-1


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