Horse Racing Coverage

Apr 23, 2014 12:54 PM

Keeneland Barn Notes - April 23, 2014

Tom Leach interviews trainer Jonathan Sheppard about Angel Terrace, racing in Thursday's Bewitch (G3), and talks to trainer Ken McPeek about War Dancer, entered in Friday's Dixiana Elkhorn (G2).

ATTFIELD MAKES ANOTHER RUN IN DIXIANA ELKHORN

Trainer Roger Attfield will bid for his fifth win in Keeneland's traditional closing-day feature when he sends out Stella Perdomo's Forte Dei Marmi (GB) in the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) at 1½ miles on the turf on Friday. The Selkirk gelding, now 8, earned the 2013 Sovereign Award as Canada's champion turf male. He began last season at Keeneland, but was pulled up and vanned off in the Elkhorn.

"Scared the life out of me. Nothing happened," Attfield said about the experience. "It was upsetting but a relief, too, when we realized he was OK."
Attfield, who won the Elkhorn in 2006 with Pellegrino (BRZ), 2009 with Spice Route (GB) and 2010-2011 with Musketier (GER), last year sent out Forte Dei Marmi to win Woodbine's Singspiel (G3), Sky Classic (G2) and Northern Dancer (G1) in consecutive starts. He initially planned to race the gelding once at Gulfstream before shipping to Keeneland, but did not want to run Forte Dei Marmi on the turf course there.

"He doesn't mind a firm turf if there's some cut in it," Attfield said.

On April 5 at Keeneland, Forte De Marmi finished fifth in a 1 1/8-mile turf allowance event.

"I jarred him up a little bit here when I ran him opening weekend on that firm turf," Attfield said. "There wasn't any bounce to it. I wasn't sure if I was going to run him (in the Dixiana Elkhorn), but he seemed to get over the ground well yesterday (when he worked five furlongs in 1:01.80) on the turf course). If he's OK tomorrow when I train him, then I'll run him."

Forte De Marmi, named for a popular seaside community in Northern Italy, has 10 wins in 34 starts and earnings of $1,037,447. Attfield called him "an interesting little horse to train," estimating him to be about 15.3 hands.

"He's his own man," Attfield said. "Sometimes if he doesn't want to train at all, I don't train him. Other times, he does. So I work with him that way, and it seems to be working."

McPEEK GOING FOR FIRST DIXIANA ELKHORN WIN

A victory in Friday's closing-day Dixiana Elkhorn (G2) with War Dancer will give trainer Ken McPeek his fourth stakes win of the 2014 Spring Meet and continue his foray into new territory of sorts.

"I'd never won the Ben Ali (G3) or Commonwealth (G3) until this meet," said McPeek, who has 25 career stakes wins at Keeneland. "I'd like to knock down an Elkhorn."

War Dancer, a 4-year-old War Front colt who races for Magdalena Racing and Diamond M. Stable, won the 2013 Virginia Derby (G2). He opened his 2014 campaign at Gulfstream Park with a sixth in an allowance race on turf and seventh in the Skip Away (G3) on dirt on March 29 in his most recent race.
"He's had some rough trips in his last few races, and I tried him on the dirt one last time, which didn't go all that well, but he's a nice horse, doing good," McPeek said. "A mile and a half (of the Dixiana Elkhorn) won't be an issue. He'll love it."

McPeek's seven wins this meet place him second on the list of the season's leading trainers entering Wednesday's races. On April 5, he sent out Rosalind for a dead-heat victory in the Central Bank Ashland (G1); the filly is now training for the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

McPeek won the Commonwealth a week later with Occasional View and the Ben Ali a week after that with Frac Daddy. Occasional View is headed to Woodbine for his next start, McPeek said, but no decision has been made on Frac Daddy's next race.

SPRING MEET LEADERS
Through April 19 (12 days of racing)
Jockey Starts Wins 2nd 3rd Purses
Julien Leparoux 80 17 5 12 $676,805
Stewart Elliott 56 11 6 4 $443,024
Joe Rocco Jr. 58 9 11 7 $460,935
Alan Garcia 39 9 3 3 $602,160
Rosie Napravnik 61 7 12 6 $348,615
Javier Castellano 37 7 7 7 $641,960
Joel Rosario 46 6 7 9 $548,346
Shaun Bridgmohan 37 6 2 2 $412,330


Trainer Starts Wins 2nd 3rd Purses
Mark Casse 38 8 5 6 $487,916
Ken McPeek 30 7 1 4 $533,575
H. Graham Motion 34 6 3 4 $315,484
Wesley Ward 21 6 3 3 $427,126
Christophe Clement 14 4 2 1 $242,764
Tom Amoss 8 4 0 1 $73,951

Owner Wins
John C. Oxley 4*
Gary Barber 3
Drake Racing Stables (Shirley and Tim Girten and Karol Germany), Muirfield Farm (Doug and Len Labuda) and Mike Lobalzo 2
Gary L. and Mary E. West Stables Inc. 2
JMJ Racing Stables LLC (Dennis Narlinger) 2
Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey 2
Klaravich Stables Inc. (Seth Klarman) and William Lawrence 2
Loooch Racing Stable Inc. (Ron Paolucci) 2
Magdalena Racing (Ken McPeek, et al) 2*
Maggi Moss 2
Phipps Stable 2
Wesley A. Ward 2

*Includes partnerships.

CLOSING WEEK SPECIAL EVENTS

Wednesday, April 23

WINS-day Challenge, a handicapping contest presented by Malone's. At Wagering Central, contestants can sign up to play for a $10 entry fee, then they place a mythical $2 win and place wager on Keeneland Races 3 through 8. The contest offers a guaranteed $2,500 pool, and the first 200 participants receive a free Daily Racing Form and a card for an appetizer at Malone's. The first-, second- and third-place finishers receive cash prizes and a gift card from Malone's.

TVG Hat Giveaway. The first 1,000 patrons with paid admission through the gates will receive a voucher for a free TVG hat. Fans can redeem their voucher from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at a table located Trackside near Elevator C.

Thursday, April 24

Lexington Herald-Leader Subscriber Appreciation Day. All Herald-Leader subscribers will receive free general admission with the coupon found on the front page of the Thursday, April 24, edition of the newspaper. Herald-Leader personalities will be available to meet with fans throughout the day.
Friday, April 25 - Closing Day

The Hill. Keeneland's official tailgate lot, which is adjacent to the Keene Barn, features food trucks, a jumbo television screen, wireless wagering and wagering terminals, race-day programs, a Keeneland Gift Shop kiosk and free shuttles to the track. BETologists, Keeneland's wagering experts, will be available to answer fans' questions.

Concert on the Lawn presented by Dixiana Farms will benefit the Markey Cancer Center. The event, to be held on the Clubhouse Lawn beginning at 6 p.m., features a free concert by Lexington's own Laura Bell Bundy and Sundy Best.

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