Friday, April 8, 2011

Keeneland's Opening Day

It’s like a Holy Day of Obligation.

I’ve been fortunate to attend the Spring meet many times, though it’s doubtful I will get there this year. Even so, I will be in attendance” in spirit”. Looks like the temps will be in the 70’s with a 40% chance of showers. Even a rainy day at Keeneland is just about better than being anywhere else today. The trees are starting to bloom. The grass is lush and green, both on the turf course and also over the miles and miles of farm land that surrounds the Lexington area. Foals are frolicking, pregnant mares are lying in the sun, stallions are busy doing what they do and race goers at the track just couldn’t be happier.

It’s really the perfect time to be in Kentucky.

The first race is a baby race at 4 and ½ furlongs with a Wesley Ward entry. He is so good at winning with babies. And if anyone knows who trainer Gennadi Dorochenko is, could you please tell me?

The fifth race is a nice turf event for fillies. Senada (Pulpit x Owsley), is a half to Arthur’s Tale who is running in the Wood on Saturday against Mo. Looks like a good race to handicap.

The 7th is a nice sprint and maybe Anna Rose can help Mott out of his slump if Delano likes the polytrack.

The Transylvania on turf for three year olds is always a good race. We will see the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile winner Pluck and Air Support who was 5th behind him. In the race is another nice War Front, Great Mills, who is going for a 4-peat, Canadian invader Stormy Rush, the consistent Powhatan County, a Clement runner and a Proctor runner.

And again, who is Gennadi Dorochenko? He has one in there too.

There’s sixteen days of quality racing starting today and ending on Friday the 29. Lots of fan friendly bets too, (50 cent minimums) including the new 50 cent pick 5.

Whether you are lucky enough to be on track or not, don’t miss racing at Keeneland.

Lunch will be a bowl of burgoo and I’ll save room for some bourbon bread pudding…..



    Russian-born horseman Gennadi "Gary" Dorochenko will make his Keeneland training debut on Friday, opening day of the 2011 spring meeting, when he sends out four horses on the 10-race card. They include Vladamir Kazakov's Legendary King, who began his career in Poland and will race in the $100,000 Transylvania (G3).

    "I'm excited. This is a big track, big trainers, big horses. We see what we do," said Dorochenko, who has 24 horses stabled here.

    Dorochenko, 52, first came to the United States in 1993 when he knew only a word or two of English, rode on the West Coast until 1998 and returned to the saddle in 2002 to ride horses he also trained at Delaware Park. He now oversees a sizable breeding and racing operation for his Russian connections. Last night, he was 360 miles away at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort in West Virginia, where he scored a win and a fifth. He left Mountaineer about 11:45 p.m., was back at Keeneland at 5:30 a.m. today and galloped three horses.

    The seemingly tireless Dorochenko purchased Legendary King and his other Friday starters at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. In fact, he said he purchased 120 horses for his Russian connections at last year's venue.

    "It's the best sale, a lot of good horses," he said.

    In 2009, Dorochenko bought Legendary King, a 3-year-old son of Brahms, for $14,000 from breeder Clarkland Farm. The Kentucky-bred colt was sent to Russia and won three of four starts on turf in Poland last year, breaking his maiden by eight lengths. He made his North American racing debut in March at Mountaineer, running fifth in a 5½-furlong allowance over a sloppy track.

    Legendary King now takes on the Transylvania and is the 50-1 longshot in the morning line.

    "There's a lot of good horses," said Dorochenko about his rivals in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes, which has drawn the likes of 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) winner Pluck.

    Legendary King will be ridden by Anthony Stephen, a veteran jockey originally from Trinidad who also will make his Keeneland debut on Friday.

  2. Thanks Jason, for the info on Dorochenko. Hope he has a good Keeneland meet.

  3. Definitely painful not being there. It's been too long, even longer for the fall meet. That's looking likely this year though, followed by a return trip to Louisville in November.

  4. Dave,
    I HEAR you. And it's never too early to start making those Churchill plans. I still haven't given up on MAYBE making the Oaks this year, it's still on my radar. Gotta decide....