Keeneland’s opening day Friday card includes a trio of stakes races, headlined by the Grade 1 $600,000 Alcibiades, a ‘Win & You’re In’ launching pad to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Wonder Wheel won this race last year en route to Breeders’ Cup glory.
Let’s meet the contenders for the 1-1/16 miles Alcibiades Stakes:
#1-Alys Beach (Tom Amoss/Flavien Prat) 20-1 ML
Saratoga sprint debut winner was outrun in the Spa’s Grade 1 Spinaway for much of the seven furlongs before a mild rally for a well-beaten fourth. Omaha Beach filly has trained right on pattern at Churchill Downs since and will try two turns for the first time.
#2-Crazy Cami (Mike Maker / Gerardo Corrales) 30-1
Three-race maiden makes a turf-to-dirt move after a runner-up finish in a Kentucky Downs allowance sprint. Showed some dirt ability with two thirds at Saratoga in restricted maiden company and now the $45,000 daughter of Audible gets a hefty class hike.
#3-Candied (Todd Pletcher / Luis Saez) 6-1
Rallying Saratoga debut sprinter winner makes the immediate distance and class rise. She’s a daughter of successful Keeneland dirt sire Candy Ride, but dam was a rallying New York-bred juvenile sprint stakes winner for Pletcher. Saez won this race in 2020; Pletcher is looking for his first such trophy.
#4-Wine On Tap (Todd Pletcher / John Velazquez) 20-1
June debut winner at Belmont Park was an early developer and has had minor checks since in the Schuylerville at Saratoga and Sorority at Monmouth, the latter around two turns. This $600,000 Tapit colt is out of a 9-furlong Arlington Matron winner on synthetic, so should get distance based on foundation and genes. Velazquez won this race in 2011; Pletcher is looking for his first such trophy.
#5-V V’s Dream (Kenny McPeek / Brian Hernandez Jr.) 5-2
Romped by nearly 9 lengths in winning the Grade 3 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs over a two-turn mile and now must answer the two-turn question as a daughter of champion sprinter Mitole. She gets a chance to avenge her only defeat, a half-length decision to Alcibiades rival Brightwork in the Debutante. Trainer McPeek can tie D. Wayne Lukas’ all-time mark of 6 wins in the Alcibiades with a score. His 5 victories span from She’s A Devil Due in 2000 to Simply Ravishing in 2020. He and Hernandez teamed to win this in 2018 with Restless Rider.
#6-Alpine Princess (Brad Cox / Florent Geroux) 8-1
Late-running maiden sprint winner in her second Saratoga outing makes the step up in class and distance. Daughter of Classic Empire, who won the Breeders’ Futurity as a juvenile at Keeneland in 2016. Trainer Cox won the 2019 and 2021 Alcibiades editions with British Idiom and Juju’s Map, the latter paired with Geroux.
#7-Brightwork (John Ortiz / Irad Ortiz Jr.) 9-5 ** pictured above **
The top 2-year-old filly in the east and Midwest so far in 2023, she’s won the Debutante at Ellis Park as well as Saratoga’s Grade 3 Adirondack and Grade 1 Spinaway. Outwork filly already has earned nearly five times her $95,000 auction price. Keeneland promises to be no additional hurdle as she rolled here by three lengths in her career debut in April. It’s the 1-1/16 miles distance that will test her perfect record from 4-1/2 to 7 furlongs. Her damside pedigree hints more toward sprints.
#8-Emery (Brad Cox / Tyler Gaffalione) 8-1
Cruised to a nearly 6-length Saratoga debut win sprinting in the mud near the end of the Spa season. By versatile sire More Than Ready, middle distances should be in order, but dam Athena was best sprinting in stakes company. Gaffalione looks for back-to-back wins in this race after Wonder Wheel’s 2022 success. Trainer Cox won the 2019 and 2021 Alcibiades editions with British Idiom and Juju’s Map.
#9-Shimmering Allure (Kenny McPeek / Julien Leparoux) 15-1
Broke through in her fourth maiden attempt to win a one-turn mile at Churchill in restricted company. Tough post for a stalking style shown to date on paper for daughter of Enticed. McPeek can tie D. Wayne Lukas’ all-time mark of 6 wins in the Alcibiades with a score. His 5 victories span from She’s A Devil Due in 2000 to Simply Ravishing in 2020. Leparoux is a 2-time Alcibiades winner.