Neat Surges Up the Rail to Take Keeneland's Transylvania

Neat (right) | Coady/John Gallagher

The temperature may be cooler in Lexington this week, but things heated up quickly on opening day at Keeneland with the first graded event of the spring at the Lexington oval coming down to a head bob. It took a photo to determine Red White and Blue Racing LLC's Neat (c, 3, Constitution–Orabella, by More Than Ready) had outpunched Mar. 2 Colonel Liam S. runner-up Cugino (Twirling Candy) by the slimmest of margins in the $400,000 GIII Transylvania S. for 3-year-olds going 1 1 1/16 miles on the lawn. Lagynos (Kantharos), back to the grass after failing to impact in deep waters in the GII Rebel S. and Smarty Jones S. in his last two, was third in a final time of 1:44.93.

“He's getting more mature and he's gotten better every start,” said winning trainer Rob Atras of his charge. “He had beaten arguably some lesser competition and today was a tough test, and he really showed up today. Honestly, I just think [jockey] Reylu [Gutierrez] did a great job. He had a tough time going into the first turn with him and obviously causing some havoc on the backside. He got him settled down and relaxed and really finished strong.”

Coming off a daylight win after settling the pace in the Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile S. Jan. 27 at Sam Houston, Neat was in the first flight early in the Transylvania and just a head off the call at the first fraction–a quarter in :23.98–while rank and visibly fighting Reylu Gutierrez before settling.

Gutierrez was able to ease the chestnut back on the inside, opening it up for the well-traveled Musical Act (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), second Mar. 2 in Dubai in the Jumeirah Classic, to take control with Cugino joining him soon after. Turning for home, Neat found his share of traffic while still covered up in fifth. An eighth from home and still in search of a seam, he split horses, just collaring Cugino from the inside at the last possible second after Musical Act surrendered and Lagynos surged while wide.

“Sometimes these 3-year-olds go through the holes and sometimes they don't,” said Gutierrez. “From the three-eighths pole it was all the horse. It was really tight down there but we waited as long as we could and when he saw that little bit of space, I mean, he certainly overcame me. It was all the horse.”

After two victories at this distance on the turf at both Laurel and Fair Grounds last year at two, Neat closed out 2023 with his lone main track attempt in the Gun Runner S. in New Orleans. He finished well back in sixth that day behind Track Phantom (Quality Road), also dropping his Beyer figure by 24 points. It was back to grass for the Texas Turf Mile, making Neat unbeaten in two starts at three with a four-for-five career tally on the grass.

Last year's Transylvania winner, BBN Racing's Mo Stash (Mo Town), was back again for Keeneland's opening day, winning a 5 1/2-furlong turf allowance earlier on Friday's card in his first win since the race last year.

Pedigree Notes:

Hidden Brook Farm and Spruce Lane Farm together bred Neat in Kentucky and sold him to Andrew N. Warren as a Keeneland November weanling for $200,000. The colt returned to the same ring the next September, bringing the same price from Red White and Blue. Hidden Brook had purchased his unraced dam while she was carrying to Violence for $62,000 at Keeneland's 2015 November sale. That foal would become SW & MGSP Louder Than Bombs. The mare, who hails from the same family as 2010 GI Spinaway S. winner R Heat Lightning (Trippi), has a 2-year-old filly by Nyquist–sold for $80,000 to Hat Creek Racing at Keeneland September–and a yearling filly by Medaglia d'Oro. Orabella aborted her 2024 foal.

Neat becomes the 33rd graded winner for WinStar stallion Constitution, a MGISW and son of Tapit who also has 64 black-type winners and will send just his sixth crop to the races this year. The late More Than Ready, broodmare sire of the Transylvania winner, was also part of the WinStar stallion roster and has 174 stakes winners worldwide out of his daughters.


Friday, Keeneland
TRANSYLVANIA S. PRESENTED BY KEENELAND SELECT-GIII, $397,263, Keeneland, 4-5, 3yo, 1 1/16mT, 1:44.93, gd.
1–NEAT, 118, c, 3, by Constitution
                1st Dam: Orabella, by More Than Ready
                2nd Dam: Hot Trip, by Trippi
                3rd Dam: Yellow Heat, by Gold Fever
1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($200,000 Wlg '21 KEENOV;
$200,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-Red White and Blue Racing LLC;
B-Hidden Brook Farm & Spruce Lane Farm (KY); T-Rob Atras;
J-Reylu Gutierrez. $226,300. Lifetime Record: 6-4-0-0,
$347,900. *1/2 to Louder Than Bombs (Violence), SW &
MGSP, $264,554. Werk Nick Rating: A.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Cugino, 118, c, 3, Twirling Candy–Adorable Miss, by Kitten's
Joy. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($225,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP).
O-West Point Thoroughbreds and Jimmy Kahig LLC; B-Gage Hill
Stables, LLC & W. S. Farish (KY); T-Claude R. McGaughey III.
3–Lagynos, 118, c, 3, Kantharos–Steamy, by Speightstown.
KEESEP). O-HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud; B-Robert
Spiegel (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $36,500.
Margins: NO, HF, 1. Odds: 13.41, 5.23, 31.75.
Also Ran: Lord Bullingdon, Musical Act (Ire), Can Group, Depiction, Guy Named Joe, First World War, Full Nelson, Oscar's World, Tennessee. Scratched: Camaro Z, Royal Majesty (GB).
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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