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Spring in the Air tops overflow field in Ashland
Winner of the Grade 1 Alcibiades last October, Spring in the Air will return to Keeneland's Polytrack for Saturday's Grade 1 Ashland. The Mark Casse-trained filly is scheduled to face 13 rivals in the 76th running of the $500,000 event, which also drew two also-eligibles, and the 1 1/16-mile race will award points on a 100-40-20-10 scale toward qualification for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 3.
Spring in the Air will attempt to become the fifth filly to sweep the Alcibiades and the Ashland. The Alcibiades, inaugurated in 1952, is the marquee fall event for two-year-old fillies at Keeneland. Only Doubledogdare (1955), Optimistic Gal (1975), Silverbulletday (1998) and Take Charge Lady (2001) have come back the following spring after their Alcibiades triumphs to win the Ashland. Optimistic Gal and Silverbulletday went on to win the Kentucky Oaks after their Ashland victories.
Spring in the Air finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies after the Alcibiades and opened this year with a close second in the March 11 OBS Championship (Filly Division) at Ocala. Regular rider Patrick Husbands will guide the promising daughter of Spring at Last.
Spring Venture, also trained by Casse, narrowly defeated her stablemate when making her second start of 2013 in the OBS Championship and is one of two other graded stakes winners in the Ashland field, capturing the Grade 2 Natalma on grass and the Grade 3 Mazarine on Polytrack in 2012 at Woodbine. Miguel Mena will pick up the mount.
Kitten's Point exits a nice score in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride on Gulfstream's turf and finished second in the grassy Grade 3 Jessamine at Keeneland last fall. Trained by Graham Motion, Kitten's Point captured her career debut at Presque Isle Downs last September and will retain the services of Edgar Prado for her synthetic return Saturday.
Three rivals from the Alcibiades are back to challenge Spring in the Air: runner-up Broken Spell, who exits a fourth in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway; third-place finisher Magical Moon, fourth in the recent LaCombe Memorial on Fair Grounds' turf; and 11th-place finisher Kitten's Dumplings, who was last seen finishing second in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks on Tampa's turf February 2.
Other contenders include Tuttipaesi, who easily captured a salty edition of the January 1 Ginger Brew when making her U.S. debut and finished third as the favorite in the Herecomesthebride last time; California Oaks winner Redressthebalance; Grade 2 Davona Dale third-placer Private Ensign; and Grade 2 runner-up Emollient, who will wheel back off seven days rest for Bill Mott following a disappointing fifth in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks on dirt.
All starters will carry 121 pounds.