News and STORIES

Essential Quality, Fire At Will Headline Keeneland’s Spring Meeting

Author: Ryan Knuppel
Published: Tuesday March 30, 2021
Horse racing fans always want to see the best horses pitted against each other with huge prizes up for grabs, and it would seem as though that is just what we will be seeing on the opening two days of the Keeneland Spring Meet. The action gets underway on Friday, with $2.5 million in the purse across the nine stakes.

Fire At Will Returns To Turf

The biggest star in action on Friday will be Fire At Will, who will be returning to the turf after a disappointing run on dirt last time out. It would be fair to say that the experiment didn’t go well, and reverting back to the tried and trusted is a solid decision by trainer Michael J Maker. 

The 3-year-old was in excellent form towards the end of last year and capped that with success in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, as the 33/1 shot beat Battleground by three lengths.

Fire At Will heads the betting for the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania on the opening day of the meeting. He will be coming up against some quality competition in the form of Breadman, Earls Rock and Scarlett Sky in the Grade III. Maker will be looking for a second straight win in the race, as he trained Field Pass to success 12 months ago.

Kentucky Derby Hopeful In Action On Saturday

The attention will swiftly turn to Kentucky Derby hopefuls on Saturday, with the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes being the most lucrative prize on offer during the weekend. The field will be headed by the irrepressible Essential Quality for trainer Brad Cox. 

Essential Quality remains among the favorites for the first of the Triple Crown events and could further those claims with a commanding victory over some top-notch competition on Saturday.

The 3-year-old is in excellent form, having won his last four. He was in top condition his last time out as he won the Southwest Stakes in commanding fashion by 4 1/4 lengths from Spielberg. 

It is a slightly different challenge this weekend, as he will come up against El Camino Real Derby winner Rombauer and Highly Motivated.

Competitive Ashland Stakes Taking Place On Saturday

It isn’t all about the Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday, as there will also be a competitive renewal of the Ashland Stakes. The biggest race on the road to the Kentucky Oaks already boasts a talented field of eight, with each having decent claims for the win. 

Will’s Secret will be among the runners looking for the win, as the Dallas Stewart-trained horse has won his last two.

She was excellent last time out in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes, as she held on to win by three-quarters of a length. Her main rival for the Blue Grass Stakes could come in the form of Pass The Champagne for trainer George Weaver. 

The 3-year-old was a commanding winner of the Maiden Special Weight back at the end of February, as she won by 2 1/2 lengths from Another Woman. However, this will be a big step-up in competition.