10/07/2011 3:29PM

Keeneland opener a ray of autumn sunshine

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
The field breaks for the third race on opening day, a turf allowance won by the Tom Proctor-trained Mutually Benefit, ridden by Julien Leparoux.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – It was only a $7,500 claiming race, but Tevis Q. McCauley scarcely could have been happier. This was Keeneland, after all, where McCauley grew up going to the races as a kid and where he now trains a mid-sized public stable.

“Can’t beat it,” McCauley said while waiting for Gentlemansapproval, a 5-1 chance, to stroll into the winner’s circle after the second race Friday to join some three dozen of McCauley’s friends and family members. For McCauley, 27, the front-running score was the 64th, and surely one of the most memorable, victories in a career that has spanned just over two years now.

“Pretty cool being tied for leading trainer,” said a jovial McCauley, whose father, Ron, is a car dealer in nearby Nicholasville and one of his son’s clients.

Smiles, screams, and finely dressed racegoers were not restricted to the winner’s circle on opening day of the fall meet. Perhaps it was the brilliant sunshine and high-class racing that unfolded, or maybe it was the return of racing to this idyllic racing outpost following the usual absence of more than five months.

Whatever it was, Julien Leparoux was among those glad to be back. Leparoux, already with six Keeneland riding titles to his credit at age 28, got off to a fast start, winning the meet opener aboard first-timer Jump Up ($22.40) for trainer Eddie Kenneally, then coming back to win with his next mount when favored Mutually Benefit ($4.40) led throughout to win the day’s third race, a turf allowance for Tom Proctor.

Kenneally, who has won graded stakes here in recent years with such standouts as Bushfire and Kelly’s Landing, said he is “pretty light” in the stakes categories this fall but is excited about the 17-day meet nonetheless. “This was a good start,” he said. “We’ve got some pretty nice horses coming up, including this one.”

The fourth race, a $40,000 claiming sprint for 3-year-old fillies, was won in gate-to-wire fashion by Second Street City ($8.80), with Jimmy Graham riding for Tom Amoss. Wearing two proverbial hats, as he often does, Amoss was on-air with the TVG crew for an extended period before leaving to attend to his training duties.

“If I have one in, they won’t let me pick anything other than my horse,” said Amoss. “I looked pretty smart there, huh?”

Reinstedler now with Adena Springs

Unlike in many past years, Tony Reinstedler was not at Keeneland for opening day. Reinstedler has dispersed his public stable, which had dwindled down to six horses, and has become a farm trainer at Adena Springs South in Ocala, Fla., where he said Friday he is “really enjoying this great opportunity” while remaining involved in the racing industry.

Reinstedler, 47, ran his last horse on Aug. 20 at Ellis Park. In nearly 21 years as a trainer, he won 466 races for stable earnings of more than $17.5 million. His best horses included Yaqthan, War Deputy, Approach, Aud, Knockadoon, Percy Hope, and Angel Fever, the dam of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.