04/16/2007 12:00AM

Belgravia makes '07 debut


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Lexington Stakes appears unlikely to produce a major contender for the Kentucky Derby, but nonetheless the Grade 2 Lexington is shaping up with a large cast for its 26th running Saturday at Keeneland. Belgravia, making his seasonal debut, is the likely favorite.

Belgravia, trained by Patrick Biancone, was scheduled for a short blowout Tuesday or Wednesday for the 1 1/16-mile Lexington. The Mr. Greeley colt, unraced since finishing fourth as the favorite in the Dec. 16 Hollywood Futurity, shows a strong work pattern, with his most recent breeze, a five-furlong move in 1:02.20 seconds, coming April 10 at Keeneland.

Besides Belgravia, Keeneland officials are expecting another seven to 11 starters for the $325,000 Lexington. The 3-year-olds considered definite are Albertus Maximus, Forty Grams, Joe Got Even, Slew's Tizzy, Soaring By, Starbase, and Xchanger. Possible starters include Boogiemanball, Moyer's Pond, Sacrifice Bunt, and Wafi City.

Entries for the Lexington will be drawn Wednesday. The last time a Lexington starter won the Derby was in 1999 when Charismatic swept both races.

A full field for Forerunner

A pair of 3-year-olds entered off sharp runner-up efforts in recent stakes are among a full field entered in the $100,000 Forerunner Stakes, the Thursday feature at Keeneland.

In Jest, second in the Transylvania Stakes on opening day of the meet, and Trust Your Luck, second to Dominican in the March 24 Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park, head a competitive cast in the Forerunner, which goes at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Trainer Bill Mott, who won the Transylvania with Marcavelly, has Moudez as a strong contender for the Forerunner.

From the hedge, the Forerunner field, which is limited to 10 starters, consists of Poschner, Bullara, Moudez, Blues Street, Corrupt, Skip Code, Trimaran, In Jest, Trust Your Luck, and What a Character. Hacker Craft and Summerlucky are also-eligibles.

Wagering record established

Despite nasty weather that limited the ontrack crowd to 18,056, Keeneland set a wagering record for all sources Saturday, Blue Grass Day, while also establishing various other business records.

The all-sources handle of $19,246,840 surpassed the track record of $18.3 million set last year on Blue Grass Day. Track records for pick six handle ($722,646), along with the highest pick six pool including carryover ($919,213) also were established Saturday. Record highs also were set for a pick four pool ($395,619, on races 7-10) and pick three pool ($182,395, on races 8-10).

The two winning pick six tickets, each worth $317,439.80, were sold at Turfway Park and through Youbet.

The crowd was the smallest since Keeneland started running the Blue Grass on the Saturday three weeks before the Derby. Until 1989, the race was run on a Thursday nine days before the Derby.

Pletcher stars work together

Rags to Riches, the solid favorite for the May 4 Kentucky Oaks, had a serious workout Sunday over the Keeneland Polytrack, going six furlongs in 1:13.40.

Working in company with her Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate, the Derby-hopeful Circular Quay, Rags to Riches was "well in hand," Pletcher said.

"Both Circular Quay and Rags to Riches spent a good part of the winter at Hollywood Park training over the synthetic track, so they're familiar with the surface," Pletcher said.

Rags to Riches, winner of the Las Virgenes and Santa Anita Oaks, was the 3-2 favorite when Pool 3 of the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager closed Sunday evening.

Derby tickets go fast

Churchill Downs officials estimated about 1,000 people had lined up by the time 500 pairs of Kentucky Derby tickets went on sale to the general public Saturday. The first person in line showed up at noon the previous day and camped out all night.

Availability of reserved seats for the Derby is highly unusual and Churchill normally does not hold a public sale. People were allowed to buy as many as two seats, which are located in non-prime clubhouse and grandstand areas. The last person allowed to buy tickets arrived at Churchill shortly before 5 a.m.

Hall of Fame Jockey Day

Keeneland is hosting a Hall of Fame Jockey Day for the first time Wednesday, when a variety of activities and public appearances will be conducted throughout the afternoon.

Eight retired jockeys have been invited to participate. With their years of induction into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, they are Don Brumfield (1996), Steve Cauthen (1994), Angel Cordero Jr. (1988), Pat Day (1991), Earlie Fires (2001), Chris McCarron (1989), Gary Stevens (1997), and Bobby Ussery (1980).

From 11 a.m. through 4 p.m., they all will participate in a news conference, a question-and-answer session in the paddock, photo sessions, and an autograph session where fans will be charged $5, with proceeds going to the NTRA Charities' Disabled Jockeys Fund.