04/01/2014 1:46PM

Keeneland: Pleuven, Storming Inti complement each other in Transylvania

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Barbara D. Livingston
Pleuven will start from post 8 in Friday's opening-day Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland for trainer Chad Brown.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A full field of 12 3-year-olds has been entered in the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes on the opening-day card Friday at Keeneland, where 14 other graded races will be run during what promises to be a sensational 15-day spring meet.

The Transylvania and the Grade 1 Ashland on Saturday are the only two stakes on the opening three-day weekend. Then comes the meat of the meet, with seven stakes scheduled for the following three-day weekend, led by the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile featuring Wise Dan on April 11 and a five-stakes blockbuster card highlighted by the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes on April 12.

The $100,000 Transylvania, the ninth of 10 Friday races, is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on a turf course that has been slow to come around following an unusually harsh winter. Until last week, the course had been brown and hard, and no horses were allowed on the course Tuesday, normally a day for turf works. But milder weather has prevailed in recent days, and officials are optimistic turf racing will be held on opening weekend – that is, if it does not rain too hard Thursday night and into Friday, as some forecasters have been predicting may happen.

Chad Brown will saddle the uncoupled duo of Pleuven (post 8) and Storming Inti (post 10) in the Transylvania and said Tuesday that Pleuven would likely benefit more from a softer turf.

“They’ve got the running styles to complement each other,” Brown said from the track apron while watching a set of his horses train. “Storming Inti goes to the front and Pleuven comes from off it.”

Brown also has a major contender Saturday in Testa Rossi for the $500,000 Ashland, a race worth 100 points toward eligibility into the field for the May 2 Kentucky Oaks. Testa Rossi will be making her synthetic-surface debut in the 1 1/16-mile Ashland after establishing herself as a turf standout in eight career starts.

Keeneland stakes coordinator Scott Jones said he is expecting at least 11 3-year-old fillies for the Ashland, with other favorites being Candy Kitty, Room Service, Rosalind, and On the Backstreets. For the following Saturday, a full gate of 14 appears likely for the Blue Grass, he added. The Blue Grass program also will include the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley, Grade 1 Madison, Grade 3 Commonwealth, and Grade 3 Shakertown.

Brown, like a number of other top-tier East Coast trainers, is here with quite a few of his better horses. Other notables with strings that figure to make some impact include Shug McGaughey, Bill Mott, Christophe Clement, Graham Motion, Barclay Tagg, Mark Casse, and Wayne Catalano.

The Friday opener also was expected to feature the first 2-year-old race of the year in Kentucky, but the 4 1/2-furlong dash failed to fill with only four entries. Another is in the condition book for Saturday.

Friday marks College Scholarship Day, with 10 scholarships worth $1,000 being raffled off throughout the day. For Saturday, Keeneland is encouraging fans to wear blue to support the University of Kentucky basketball team and their national semifinal game that evening in the Final Four.

Post time daily is 1:05 p.m. Eastern, except Blue Grass Day, when a 12-race card will start at 12:35.