10/24/2005 12:00AM

America Alive settles for mile

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The distance isn't ideal, but trainer Neil Howard will take what he can get. Howard wanted a well-timed prep race for his Grade 1 winner America Alive leading into the Nov. 20 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs, so he will gladly run America Alive in a one-mile turf race that serves as the Wednesday feature at Keeneland.

"Just getting an allowance race under our belt outweighs any considerations about distance," said Howard.

, owned by the Mill House of former U.S. Treasury Secretary James Brady, tends to do his best at 1 1/16 miles or 1 1/8 miles, said Howard.

"But maybe I'm just splitting hairs," he said. "The horse has never run a bad race on either the Keeneland or Churchill turf."

America Alive joined the elite of the North American turf division by winning the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve on the May 7 Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill. He has gone winless in four subsequent races, but all were respectable efforts in Grade 1 or Grade 2 company.

The opposition Wednesday is not nearly as formidable, so America Alive figures to be a heavy favorite with regular rider Robby Albarado aboard. Seven older horses will oppose America Alive in the eighth of nine races, a $60,000 classified allowance.

The last race for America Alive was the Grade 2 Fourstardave on the Aug. 27 Travers undercard at Saratoga. He raced evenly, finishing fourth of six behind Leroidesani-maux, the solid favorite for the upcoming Breeders' Cup Mile.

"We gave him a little bit of busman's holiday for a couple weeks after Saratoga," said Howard. "We looked ahead and decided the best option would be to point for the River City."

In the unlikely event that America Alive fails to run his usual race, the upset could go to Mighty Military, trained by Bob Holthus, or Del Mar Show, who has been off form recently but is less than $10,000 shy of $1 million in earnings.

The rest of the field is Mr. Krisley, .

Wednesday's card is the last one of the 17-day meet without a stakes race. The remaining features are the Jessamine County on Thursday, the Bourbon County on Friday, and the Grade 3 Fayette on Saturday.