10/01/2010 2:15PM

Chicago gang of four to hit Keeneland


The top four riders at the recently ended Arlington Park meet will be among an extremely deep jockey colony at the Keeneland fall meet, which will start with the usual frenzy of activity with the three-day FallStars Weekend Oct. 8-10.

Michael Baze, Junior Alvarado, Jimmy Graham, and Jesus Castanon – the respective top four at Arlington – all plan to be here throughout the 17-day meet before scattering in various directions. They will join the likes of Robby Albarado, Calvin Borel, Kent Desormeaux, Garrett Gomez, and Julien Leparoux, all of whom plan to ride at the Lexington, Ky., track on a regular basis through the end of the meet, Oct. 30. Thereafter, most of the Keeneland jockeys will stay on through at least the first week of the Churchill Downs fall meet, which peaks with the Nov. 5-6 Breeders’ Cup championships.

Keeneland recently released nominations for FallStars Weekend, a crowded slate that includes five Grade 1 events, all of them with potential implications toward the Breeders’ Cup. Those Grade 1 races are the Darley Alcibiades on Friday; the Shadwell Turf Mile, the Abu Dhabi First Lady, and the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity on Saturday; and the Juddmonte Spinster on Sunday. Five other stakes will be run opening weekend.

Purses have been cut by more than $1 million for this meet, including a number of reductions and cancellations in the stakes program.

The first Arabian race in track history will be held on the first Saturday of the meet when the $50,000 UAE Cup is run at 1 1/4 miles on the Polytrack. The race will be carded as the second of the day.

Entries for Friday, opening day, will be drawn Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Keeneland announced this week that it has modified its parking plan with what officials called “small changes” for the coming meet, with tailgating being moved to an area adjacent to the Keene Entertainment Center, and free-parking areas being expanded and shifted closer to the track. Because of the large crowds that Keeneland invariably attracts, parking and traffic flow can be nagging issues on certain days.

Ouzts in a runaway

The 16-day Turfway Park fall meet will close Sunday with 56-year-old Perry Ouzts as the dominant jockey. Ouzts, who recently surpassed the 5,500-win milestone, entered the last three programs with 26 wins, more than double his closest pursuer atop the standings. Likewise, Joe Woodard, who had 17 wins through Thursday night, will easily win the training title.

In previous years, Turfway conducted racing on the Thursday night before Keeneland opened on a Friday, but an overall reduction in the schedule led Turfway to eliminate the “orphaned” date, leading to four dark days between the end of Turfway and start of Keeneland.

The Turfway meet has been a real downer for many Kentucky racing fans. The once-proud Kentucky Cup was canceled for the first time since its 1994 inaugural, and only one stakes was run during the entire meet.

◗ The Breeders’ Cup host committee announced this week that a new public function, the Breeders’ Cup Brunch, will be held this year on the Thursday morning before the championships in downtown Louisville. The event will be hosted by Kenny Mayne and Bob Valvano, with Bo Derek as featured speaker.

Tickets and further information are available by calling (502) 636-4575 or emailing patty.frazier@kyderby.com.

◗ Churchill has teamed with the University of Louisville in offering a two-day package that combines the Nov. 13 South Florida-Louisville football game with the Nov. 14 card at Churchill. “Pigskins and Ponies” is the first such cooperative marketing effort between the two sports entities. Tickets are $25.