10/14/2009 11:00PM

Canadian Ballet gets BC audition


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Even with the memory of her historic Saratoga meet still fresh, Linda Rice remains hard at it.

"It's always, 'What have you done for me lately,' isn't it?" Rice asked with a laugh.

Keeneland fans who weren't paying close attention to Saratoga may not know that Rice sent out 20 winners to become the first female to win a training title on the New York racing circuit, although by late Friday afternoon, it won't matter to most. All they will want to know is if this New York-based trainer has the goods for the feature race, the $100,000 Franklin County, in Canadian Ballet.

An overflow field of 15 filly-mare turf sprinters is entered in the Franklin County, a 5 1/2-furlong race that anchors a 10-race Keeneland card. Canadian Ballet, with Stewart Elliott to ride, was assigned post 6 as the likely favorite in a race limited to 12 starters.

A gutsy triumph by Canadian Ballet in a small Sept. 2 stakes was one of the key final-week victories that allowed Rice to hold off Todd Pletcher by one win atop the Saratoga standings. In her lone subsequent start, Canadian Ballet held off all comers in capturing the $200,000 Turf Amazon at Philadelphia Park, confirming her status as one of the premier horses in her niche and lifting her career bankroll to $479,202.

In fact, Rice said the Franklin County will determine whether she might have Canadian Ballet try the males in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.

"She's really had a good year, and if she runs well Friday, we might have to consider it," she said.

Besides Canadian Ballet, whose strength is speed, the other logical contenders in the Franklin County appear to be Mullins Beach, a three-time winner this year at her home base of Woodbine; Dubai Majesty, a closing third in the Sept. 30 Turf Amazon; Nadeshiko, a consistent filly who is strategically well drawn on the rail; and Taletobetold, a sharp last-out winner who has earned $433,492, second only to Canadian Ballet in this field.

The Franklin County (race 9) is part of the late pick four (races 7-10) that carries a guaranteed pool of $200,000 every Friday of the meet. Three allowances (races 3, 7, and 8) also are carded for Friday, when first post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.