Undefeated Champion Echo Zulu, Rachel Alexandra Winner Turnerloose Lead Nominees to Grade 1 Central Bank Ashland on Opening Day of Keeneland’s Spring Meet

L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ champion Echo Zulu, who capped off a perfect 2021 campaign with a victory in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Del Mar, and Dawn and Ike Thrash’s Turnerloose, winner of the Rachel Alexandra (G2) last Saturday at Fair Grounds in her dirt debut, headline the 99 3-year-old fillies nominated to the 85th running of the $600,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) on Friday, April 8, opening day of Keeneland’s 15-day Spring Meet.

The division’s first Grade 1 race of the year, the Central Bank Ashland is worth a stakes-record $600,000.

The 1 1/16-mile Central Bank Ashland awards 100 points to the winner on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1). The next three finishers receive 40 points, 20 points and 10 points, respectively, to the $1.25 million race on May 6 at Churchill Downs.

Thirty-five fillies who raced in the Central Bank Ashland have won the Kentucky Oaks, including champions Malathaat (2021) and Monomoy Girl (2018), Cathryn Sophia (2016) and Lovely Maria (2015).

Click here for a list of Central Bank Ashland nominees; click here for their past performances.

The Central Bank Ashland, the ninth race on April 8 with a 5:16 p.m. ET post, highlights the 10-race opening-day card that begins at 1 p.m. Other stakes that day are the $400,000 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the turf and the $400,000 Lafayette for 3-year-olds at 7 furlongs on dirt.

The three stakes will be included in the late Pick 4 and late Pick 5 wagers. The Kentucky Utilities Transylvania will be part of the Keeneland Turf Pick 3.

Post positions for the Central Bank Ashland and the other opening-day races will be drawn Tuesday, April 5.

Echo Zulu, trained by Steve Asmussen, captured her four races in 2021 by a combined 22 lengths and won the Spinaway (G1), Frizette (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies as the odds-on favorite. The filly by Gun Runner, purchased at Keeneland’s 2020 September Yearling Sale, is third on the Oaks leaderboard with 30 points.

Turnerloose, trained by Brad Cox – who won the 2018 Central Bank Ashland with Monomoy Girl – raced exclusively on grass as a 2-year-old and won two of four starts. In the Rachel Alexandra, the daughter of Nyquist posted a half-length victory to pick up 50 points toward the Oaks and shoot to the top of the leaderboard. Turnerloose is a graduate of Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock and September Sales.

Six other fillies on the top 10 of the Oaks leaderboard are among the Central Bank Ashland nominees. They include the three fillies who were second, third and fourth behind Turnerloose in the Rachel Alexandra: Red Oak Stable’s Goddess of Fire (4), Reddam Racing’s Awake At Midnyte (9) and Hidden Brook Farm and Black Type Thoroughbreds’ Hidden Connection (8).

Other notable nominees to the Central Bank Ashland include Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House’s Nest, winner of the Demoiselle (G2) and Suncoast (L) and fifth on the Oaks leaderboard; Albaugh Family Stables’ Juju’s Map, winner of last fall’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland and runner-up to Echo Zulu in the Breeders’ Cup, and Briland Farm’s Secret Oath, 7¼-length winner of the Martha Washington (L) at Oaklawn Park and trained by three-time Ashland winner D. Wayne Lukas.

Juju’s Map also is trained by Cox, who leads trainers by Central Bank Ashland nominees with 14.

The late nomination period for the Central Bank Ashland is Wednesday, March 23.

  • Click here for a list of Central Bank Ashland (G1) nominees

TVG will provide live, enhanced coverage of Keeneland during the 15-day Spring Meet, which opens Friday, April 8 and concludes Friday, April 29. First post is 1 p.m., except for April 9 and April 29 when the first race will be at 12:30 p.m.

Keeneland is closed for racing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Easter Sunday, April 17.

Since its first race meet more than 85 years ago, the Keeneland Association has devoted itself to the health and vibrancy of the Thoroughbred industry. The world’s largest Thoroughbred auction house, Keeneland conducts four sales a year, in January, April, September and November. Graduates of Keeneland sales dominate racing across the globe at every level. In April and October, Keeneland offers some of the highest caliber and richest Thoroughbred racing in the world. Keeneland hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2015 and 2020 and is holding the event again on Nov. 4-5, 2022. Uniquely structured, Keeneland is a privately held company with a not-for-profit mission that returns its earnings to the industry and the community in the form of higher purses and millions of dollars donated in support of horse industry initiatives and charitable contributions for education, research, and health and human services throughout Central Kentucky. Keeneland also maintains the Keeneland Library, a world-renowned public research institution with the mission of preserving information about the Thoroughbred industry. To learn more, visit Keeneland.com.

For more information contact:
Amy Gregory at 859 361-3490
or Amy Owens at 859 421-2566