04/15/2013 1:15PM

Keeneland: Magical Season a solid choice in Wednesday turf sprint

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Barbara D. Livingston
Perregaux is making just his second start in nearly 18 months.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Old-timers wanting to be here for an entire racing program and yet still make the early bird dinner special in town can have their wish Wednesday, when another abbreviated card is run at Keeneland.

The first of eight Wednesday races will be run at 1:05 p.m. Eastern, with the nominal feature, the sixth race, going at 3:40 and the last race at 4:42.

The sixth is a $62,000 turf sprint in which Magical Season, with Rosie Napravnik to ride, figures as a solid favorite over seven opponents in making his first start since giving trainer Mike Maker his 1,000th career victory in an eye-catching March 16 turf sprint at Fair Grounds.

Buck Butler, the New York businessman who owns Magical Season, joked that because he felt the milestone was a special one, “I asked Mike for a discount in my training bill for the honor but was greeted with silence.”

With eight of 16 spring programs in the books, Maker goes into this second half of the meet as the leading trainer in both wins (9) and starts (37). Magical Season, a private purchase as a 2-year-old, is the second of his two scheduled starters on the card, directly following Call Me Kitten, a first-time starter in race 5.

Magical Season, a gray 4-year-old Kentucky-bred, had been moderately successful until breaking loose with that last-out triumph. He earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure that day in New Orleans, a figure higher than the winners of two turf-sprint stakes on the same card, Icon Ike (93) in the Colonel Power and Extravaganza (92) in the Happy Ticket.

Clearly, a repeat of that month-ago effort would make Magical Season very tough to defeat when he and Napravnik break from post 1 in his Wednesday return. Perhaps his chief threat is Perregaux (post 3, Joel Rosario to ride), a stakes-seasoned 5-year-old making just his second start in nearly 18 months, while several others have good form (Ancil, Upsell, and Richmond County) but are returning from layoffs of note.

Napravnik, by the way, is expected back Wednesday after becoming ill Saturday evening and being forced to miss her five Sunday mounts, two of which were Utley, winner of a high-end turf allowance, and Magical Moon, runner-up in the Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes.

The eight-race card is becoming a Wednesday staple in the spring. Last spring marked the first time for an eight-race card here since 1987. Nine-race Wednesdays are still the norm in the fall.

While there is no stakes race here Wednesday, the rest of the week fills up quickly with the Grade 3 Appalachian on Thursday, the Grade 3 Doubledogdare on Friday, the Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington and the Giant’s Causeway on Saturday, and the Grade 3 Ben Ali on Sunday.