04/18/2013 2:58PM

Keeneland notes: Sweet Cassiopeia stepping up for Giant’s Causeway

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Sweet Cassiopeia has 8 wins, 4 seconds, and nearly $400,000 in earnings in her 17-race career.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Bill Connelly has taken full advantage of allowance conditions for his stable star, Sweet Cassiopeia, as the chestnut mare has run off four straight victories while managing to avoid stakes competition.

That winning streak will be put on the line Saturday at Keeneland when Sweet Cassiopeia steps up in class to oppose nine other filly-mare turf sprinters in the main supporting feature on the Coolmore Lexington undercard, the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway.

Sweet Cassiopeia clearly has been well managed by Connelly throughout her 17-race career while racking up 8 wins, 4 seconds, and nearly $400,000 in earnings.

“She’s shown she can run over anything,” said Connelly. “We’ve tried to pick our spots carefully. This race Saturday, it’ll be tough, but I’d have to say we fit as well as anybody.”

Joe Rocco Jr. will have the mount on Sweet Cassiopeia when she breaks from post 9 in the 5 1/2-furlong Giant’s Causeway, which directly precedes the Lexington as the eighth of 10 races.

Other contenders in a deep cast include Extravaganza, a last-out winner of a minor stakes on the Fair Grounds turf; Sensible Lady, a Maryland invader with 7 wins from 14 starts; Sounds of the City, winner of her last three starts; Spun Cap, a two-time winner at the recently ended Gulfstream Park meet; and Kiss in the Forest, a sharp winner in an turf-sprint allowance here last fall.

The Giant’s Causeway is part of an interesting Saturday undercard that also includes a 1 3/16-mile turf event for maidens (race 4) and a 1 5/8-mile Polytrack marathon for first-level allowance runners (race 5).

First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern, with the Giant’s Causeway at 4:42 and the Lexington at 5:13.

Ward set for stretch run

Wesley Ward, the leading trainer here at the 2012 spring and fall meets, needs to get on his proverbial horse if he intends to keep Mike Maker from winning the training title this spring. Into Thursday action, Maker led the standings with nine wins, with Ward among three tied for second with five wins.

No worries. Aside from his vaunted supply of 2-year-olds, Ward still has some live ones to run, including a pair of class-plungers Saturday in Strike the Tiger and New Believer.

“I guess you could say we’re trying to take an edge,” said Ward.

Strike the Tiger gave Ward a slice of international fame in June 2009 by winning a Royal Ascot stakes, while New Believer owns 8 wins from 11 starts over the Keeneland Polytrack. Those veterans will compete separately Saturday in divisions of seven-furlong, $10,000 claiming events carded as races 2 and 10, respectively.

Sprint post bias defied

Perhaps the reason Miss Lucky Sevens was such an overlay at 8-1 in winning the seventh race here Wednesday under Rosie Napravnik was this: Until then, horses breaking from post 1 in Polytrack sprint races at Keeneland had amassed an incredibly poor record of 1 for 116.

Excluding the handful of 2-year-old races at 4 1/2 furlongs here this spring, the streak began after Dodie Jo won at seven furlongs on closing day of the 2012 spring meet. (Distances for those subject Poly sprints range from 5 1/2 furlongs to the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet.)

Before Miss Lucky Sevens, the only winner during that entire span was Anillo, who prevailed from post 1 in the second race on Oct. 10, 2012.

Simon Bray of TVG was among the first to notice the streak and had used it repeatedly in his handicapping of such races.

Broken Spell looks like Oaks runner

With Manuka Honey officially declared out of the Kentucky Oaks, Broken Spell appears to have made the 14-horse cutoff for the May 3 filly classic at Churchill Downs.

As of Friday, this is the updated list of 14 for the Oaks: Beholder, Rose to Gold, Unlimited Budget, Dreaming of Julia, Close Hatches, Flashy Gray, Princess of Sylmar, Fiftyshadesofhay, Midnight Lucky, Silsita, Seaneen Girl, Promise Me More, Pure Fun, and Broken Spell.

Entries will be drawn April 30.