Friday, April 5, 2013

A Day of Firsts at Keeneland

Jack Milton (white bridle) edges Up With the Birds
 in the Transylvania-G3 on Keeneland's Opening Day

Photo: Coady Photography

It was a day of firsts on Opening day at Keeneland

In the inaugural two-year-old race of the season, juvenile filly Sweet Emma Rose was never headed, flying through the four-and-a-half furlong maiden special weight contest in :51.94 while trouncing second-place finisher GingerStone by nine widening lengths.  After her impressive showing in her initial outing today, the highly touted daughter of City Zip may have earned a trip to Royal Ascot in June, according to trainer Wesley Ward. 

Two races later, first-time starter I'll Call, a three-year-old son of Smart Strike, rallied smartly to win a maiden special weight test at a mile over firm turf, giving trainer Graham Motion a much-needed boost on the day Team Valor announced it planned to remove its horses from his care, notwithstanding the trainer's superb record on the partnership's behalf.  

An Augustin Stable homebred, I'll Call demonstrated composure and class while debuting without lasix, marking himself as one to watch.  Out of the graded stakes-winning Danzig mare, Recording, I'll Call has the credentials to suggest that he'll get better yet.   His full brother, the durable and consistent millionaire Smart Bid, was a multiple graded stakes winner on the turf.  He entered stud this year and stands for $4500 at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in New York.

In the featured Transylvania-G3, lightly raced Jack Milton notched his first graded stakes win in only his third lifetime start, gliding over the mile and a sixteenth grassy distance in a respectable 1:41.80.  Piloted by John Velasquez for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Gary Barber, who had purchased the colt 24 hours before he won at first asking at Gulfstream in January, Jack Milton further burnished the shining reputation of hot Danzig sire War Front, becoming the stallion's 11th graded stakes winner from just three crops to race.

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