10/17/2005 12:00AM

Albarado's weekend a tale of two noses

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Suave, winner of the Saratoga BC Handicap and BC Classic hopeful, will ship out next week.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Nobody has to tell Robby Albarado that racing is a game of inches. The veteran jockey was smack in the middle of bang-bang photo finishes in the two graded stakes run last weekend at Keeneland, losing one in gut-wrenching fashion and winning another with a minor assist from the racing gods.

Albarado was aboard Karen's Caper in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Saturday. When the horses passed under the wire, it appeared that Karen's Caper had passed Sweet Talker to win, but the photo-finish camera showed that Sweet Talker had held on. Horses do not lose by tighter margins than the one Karen's Caper lost by.

"This was a tough beat," Albardo said. "I really thought I won."

It didn't take long for Albarado to turn the tables. He rode Reunited on Sunday afternoon in the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, and after they ran down a tired Forest Music inside the furlong pole, the finish line could not come too soon. Miss Terrible's frantic rush fell about eight inches short of nailing Reunited.

David Flores, who rode Miss Terrible, said his mount "got in a little traffic" before taking aim on Reunited. So if the six-furlong TCA had been run at six furlongs and one jump, or if Miss Terrible had had a perfect trip, Albarado might have had a nightmarish weekend.

On the other hand, if Sweet Talker hadn't head-bobbed at precisely the right nano-second, and Karen's Caper had won . . .

A game of inches indeed.

"Down one day, up the next," said Albarado.

QE II ends in close finish. Heard that before?

The nose margin in Saturday's QE II marks yet another close finish in the race. Since 1999, when Perfect Sting won the QE II by two lengths, the winners, with margins, are: Collect the Cash by three-quarters of a length in 2000; Affluent by a neck in 2001; Riskaverse by a neck in 2002; Film Maker by a nose in 2003; and Ticker Tape by a half-length in 2004.

In all, 13 of 22 runnings of the QE II have been decided by less than a length.

Churchill BC candidates work

Several Churchill Downs-based horses with designs on the Breeders' Cup were out Sunday and Monday for their penultimate workouts before the Oct. 29 championships.

Breezing on Sunday were: Ex Caelis (Juvenile Fillies), who went a half-mile in 48 seconds; Sorcerer's Stone (Juvenile), five furlongs in 1:01.40; and Suave (Classic), five furlongs in 1:02.80.

On Monday, She Says It Best (Juvenile Fillies) went a mile in 1:44.40, and Battle Won (Sprint) got a half-mile in 47.20 seconds.

About 12 Churchill horses are scheduled to ship next week to Belmont Park for the Breeders' Cup.

Tricky Devil shows affinity for Keeneland

Does Tricky Devil like Keeneland, or what? After romping to a 7 3/4-length victory in a second-level allowance Sunday, the 4-year-old gray gelding has earned two monster Beyer Speed Figures at Keeneland: a 113 last fall, and a 106 Sunday.

Tricky Devil, owned by Clint and Ed Glasscock and trained by Al Stall Jr., is 2 for 2 at Keeneland. Elsewhere, he is 1 for 8, with a high Beyer of 94.

Penn State sophomore wins scholarship raffle

One of the 10 college students to win a $1,000 scholarship in the Friday raffle at Keeneland was Jena Gerlinger, who drove all night from Penn State University in College Station, Pa., to be present. Gerlinger, a sophomore, is studying to be a veterinarian.

According to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, which co-sponsored the raffle with Keeneland, a record 1,316 students signed up.