Only five fillies will line up on Saturday in the $500,000 Ashland S. (G1) at Keeneland, but the 1 1/16-mile affair features three top prospects for the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
The Ashland is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and will award 100-40-20-10 to the respective top four finishers.
Seeking the top prize of 100 points will be Rachel’s Valentina, a daughter of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and champion Bernardini. Rachel Alexandra captured the 2009 Kentucky Oaks by a record 20 1/4 lengths prior to going on to beat the boys in the Preakness (G1), Haskell Invitational (G1) and Woodward (G1).
Rachel’s Valentina has a long way to go to emulate her dam but did open her career with a pair of nice wins, including the Spinaway (G1) at Saratoga last September. The Todd Pletcher trainee closed out her juvenile campaign in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Keeneland last October, where she proved best of the rest when second to undefeated champion Songbird.
Rachel’s Valentina will face that rival again if she can make the Kentucky Oaks, but will first have to make her sophomore debut in the Ashland against the likes of Carina Mia and Cathryn Sophia. Floret Geroux has the call on Rachel’s Valentina.
Carina Mia is in the same boat as her rival in that she’ll be making her seasonal bow in this spot. The Bill Mott pupil took two tries to break her maiden, finally getting the job done at Keeneland last October by 9 3/4 lengths. The dark bay daughter of Malibu Moon skipped the Breeders’ Cup and instead was last seen taking the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill Downs by 4 1/4 lengths on November 28. Julien Leparoux has been aboard for all of Carina Mia’s starts and retains the mount Saturday.
Cathryn Sophia seeks to keep her mark perfect in the Ashland for trainer John Servis. The Street Boss filly romped by a combined 29 lengths last year at Parx Racing and Laurel Park, and thus far this season has captured the seven-furlong Forward Gal (G2) and one-mile Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Park by a total 12 1/2 lengths. She’ll be reunited with jockey Javier Castellano while trying to stretch her speed out to 1 1/16 miles in the Ashland.
Banree and Weep No More complete the Ashland field, but neither appears capable of keeping up with the top three. Weep No More looks slightly better than Banree in that she scored in the Suncoast S. at Tampa Bay Downs last out, and could pick up the 10 points for finishing fourth in this spot. Banree, third in last year’s Tempted (G3) to close out 2015, would need to improve here in her second start off the break.