04/05/2006 11:00PM

Transylvania Stakes preview


Handicappers looking to sink their teeth into a turf stake can look no further than the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland on Friday. Listed as race 8 on the opening day card, the Transylvania is for 3-year-olds going a mile on the grass.

To Sender looms a strong favorite for owner Juddmonte Farms and trainer Bobby Frankel. The British-bred son of 1,000 Guineas winner King's Best is perfect on American turf, and has the tactical speed to sit close to the expected moderate pace. To Sender's workout at Hollywood on March 31 matches up with Frankel's solid 4-year-old filly New Regina, a runner with a 93 turf Beyer on her record. To Sender looks ready to fire his best shot, and he should prove tough to down in the Transylvania.

Bettors looking for value shouldn't overlook Yate's Black Cat, an also eligible trained by Dale Romans. Yate's Black Cat has finished first in 2 of his 3 turf starts, and his Beyer Speed Figures are improving. His March 27 workout over the Palm Meadows turf course matches up with stablemate Master William, a performer with a 91 Beyer on his record. At 20-1 on the Keeneland morning line, Yate's Black Cat looks like an excellent price play.

Leading trainers Todd Pletcher and Bill Mott are well represented in the Transylvania. Pletcher will send out Tompest, a gray son of Storm Cat that won his lone turf start last year in the Chenery at Colonial Downs. Tompest defeated a pair of next-out winners in the Chenery, and shows steady works at Payson Park for his return from an early February layoff.

Mott's Wherethewestbegins defeated Yate's Black Cat in his turf debut at Gulfstream, and seems very comfortable at this mile distance. He should be tracking the pace early under Cornelio Velasquez, and may gain first run on the final bend.

In a Flash should show early speed switching back to turf for Patrick Biancone. He was stuck in an impossible outside post when facing stakes rivals over Polytrack last time out, and will be ridden by Turfway Park's leading rider, Julien Leparoux.

Dawn of War is a Grade 1 winner on dirt making his turf debut in the Transylvania. He also has good speed, but has been away since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. There are some noticeable gaps in Dawn of War's work tab, and he may need a race or two before returning to his best form.


1.To Sender

2.Yate's Black Cat