10/06/2007 6:29PM

In 75 Words or Less


At the end of a dismal ESPN telecast that dwelled on breakdowns and revived the inane "miles-per-hour" graphic, the racing-challenged network host asked Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss to comment on "the champions we crowned today." Their understandably blank looks confirmed that no champions are crowned the first weekend in October. What we actually had in the space of 2 1/2 hours were eight graded stakes at Keeneland and Belmont that probably yielded some of the favorites for the Breeders' Cup juvenile races, some winners who don't fit any of the BC races particularly well, and some starting berths for a few longshots who will be hard-pressed to repeat their victories next time out.

The quickest of quick takes on Saturday's octet of Keeneland and Belmont stakes, in the order they were run:

*Kee race 5: G3 $300k Thoroughbred Club of America S. 6f-Poly
Wild Gams ran her way into the BC F&M Sprint winning by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:10.00, faster than the Phoenix for males half an hour later. Baroness Thatcher had a rocky trip from the inside, ran decently for third.

*Kee race 6: G3 $250k Phoenix S. 6f-Poly
Event marred by fatal paddock accident to Dream of Angels and in-race career-ending breakdown of Teuflesberg, who will undergo surgery to try to save his life. The race, a weak G3 which should never have been a BC Challenge auto-qualifier, was won by 13-1 Off Duty in an uninspiring 1:10.17.

*Bel race 7: G1 $400k Champagne 1m
War Pass now 3-for-3 and possible BC Juvenile favorite after impressively wiring field in stakes debut. Cherokee Run-Vue colt, Zito's first G1 winner in two years, went opening half in quick 45.72, opened 5, held on by 1 1/4 lengths over 32-1(!) Pyro in 1:36.14. Majestic Warrior, closer than expected to early pace, showed nothing finishing dull sixth at 1.05-1; Ready's Image showed less running last at 5-2.

*Kee race 8: G2 $400k First Lady, 1m-T
Vacare visually impressive running down Precious Kitten from the inside to win by a half in 1:35.85 but what now? She got a berth in the 11-furlong F&M Turf but that's 11 furlongs and she's never raced beyond 9. Lady of Venice a dull fourth, extending bad run for Biancone at Keeneland thusfar.

*Bel race 8: G1 $400k Frizette, 1m
Race inexplicably neither designated a BC Challenge event nor televised by ESPN probably yielded the BC Juvenile Fillies favorite in Indian Blessing, who followed up her blowout Saratoga debut with a blowout G1 romp. Second early, she ran away from the field around the turn, opened an eight-length lead, and was taken in hand down through a slow final quarter of 27.34 to win by 4 1/4 over Backseat Rhythm. Indian Charlie filly gives Baffert a strong 1-2 punch for BCJF along with Oak Leaf winner Cry and Catch Me.

*Kee race 8: G1 $500k Breeders' Futurity, 1 1/16m-Poly
Arlington-Washington Futurity winner Wicked Style now 3-for-3 like War Pass after front-running score through slow fractions from post 12. Rusty Arnold-trained Macho Uno colt from Trempolino mare got half in 49.64, six furlongs in 1:14.65, and had plenty left to score by 3 1/4 over Slew's Tiznow, who chased from second throughout. Winner's time of 1:45.21 only 0.54 faster than 2-year-old maiden race earlier on card. The Roundhouse checked in dull sixth as 2-1 chalk. Gold Train broke down, had to be euthanized.

*Bel race 9: G2 $300k Jamaica H., 1 1/8-T
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day: Nobiz Like Shobiz had won his two previous grass starts but stamped himself a star on the surface here, relaxing early for the first time and then accelerating powerfully in deep stretch to win by four lengths in a quick 1:46.80 over a good group that included Secretariat 1-2 finishers Shamdinan and Red Giant. He could be an intriguing possibility for the BC Mile, but trainer Barclay Tagg is likelier to send him to the Hollywood Derby.

*Kee race 9: G1 $600k Shadwell Turf Mile, 1m-T
Biancone appeared to have his first winner of the meet when Cosmonaut opened a 2 1/2-length lead at the eighth pole, but 20-1 Purim ran him down to win by a neck in 1:35.56, 0.30 faster than Vacare's First Lady. Purim, a 5-year-old Dynaformer homebred, had races as good as anyone's including a close third to Kip DeVille and Showing Up in the Maker's Mark on this course last spring, if you were willing to overlook his recent form.