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Blue Grass, Ashland highlight Keeneland’s opening weekend

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland begins its 15-day spring meet Friday.

The $150,000 Grade 3 Transylvania will lead off a month featuring 16 stakes races worth more than $4.3 million and qualifiers for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks highlighting 15 graded events.

The marquee events on Saturday’s 11-race card with five stakes are the $1 million Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes and $500,000 Grade 1 Ashland, both of which award 170 points for the top four finishers toward the Derby on May 6 and Oaks for fillies on May 5.

Unbeaten McCraken is the 7-5 morning line favorite in a seven-horse field for the Blue Grass; Daddy’s Little Darling will lead the Ashland’s eight-horse field as the 5-2 choice.

Keeneland will race Wednesdays through Sundays during April with no racing on Easter Sunday, April 16.

Saratoga, without Justify, ready to go for 150th meet

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Triple Crown winner Justify won’t be running during the 150th meet at Saratoga Race Course, but many of the best thoroughbreds will be at the historic track for the 40-day season.

The meet features 69 stakes races worth $18.8 million in purses and opens Friday. Among those running this season will be Good Magic, Hofburg, Gronkowski, Vino Rosso, and Bravazo.

Todd Pletcher is eyeing his 13th training title in 16 years. He won last year with 40 winners, one more than Chad Brown.

Justify has returned to Del Mar in California after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago. Trainer Bob Baffert says Justify probably will walk around the stable area the next two weeks.

The colt likely will return in the fall, the ultimate goal being the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.

Triple Crown winner Justify under observation at Del Mar

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Triple Crown winner Justify has re-located to Del Mar where trainer Bob Baffert is keeping him under observation after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago.

Baffert says Justify will probably just walk around the stable area for the next two weeks at the track north of San Diego. The probable scenario for the colt is a return to racing sometime in the fall with the ultimate goal being the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.

“Right now, we’re just looking to get him 100 percent,” Baffert said Monday. “We’re in a holding pattern. I’d love to run him again because he’s so much fun and exciting to watch. We should know more in a couple of weeks.”

Justify has won all six starts in his brief career that began this year. He has won four straight Grade 1 races, including a sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become horse racing’s 13th Triple Crown champion.

The colt hasn’t had a workout since the Belmont Stakes on June 9.