09/28/2006 12:00AM

Coming from all over for Turfway BC

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As the Kentucky Cup opener, the Grade 3, $175,000 Turfway Breeders' Cup Stakes has at least several elements to set an exciting tone for the five-race series Saturday. The 1 1/16-mile race drew a full field that includes a Grade 1 winner shipping in from New York (Splendid Blended) and arguably the top female runners from the Florida circuit (Prospective Saint) and Illinois circuit (Stop a Train).

Indeed, the Turfway BC figures as a terrific matchup, not only among those accomplished shippers, but also among a handful of locally based fillies or mares, including La Reason, Beautiful Bets, and Victoire Bataille. In all, 13 were entered, with Slew Peg being the lone also-eligible.

Splendid Blended, who was flown Thursday via charter airline from New York to Turfway, must be considered the one to beat given a top effort. As the winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet at 2, Splendid Blended, now 4, has reprised occasional flashes of that brilliance, including when she won the Shirley Jones and a smaller Philadelphia Park stakes within her last three starts.

Prospective Saint returns to Kentucky from South Florida after winning the signature race at Ellis Park, the Aug. 5 Gardenia Stakes, as a solid favorite. She has been carefully managed by trainer Marty Wolfson, who said Prospective Saint's early speed could prove a tactical advantage Saturday.

Stop a Train has evolved into a stakes-class performer after methodically going through conditions this summer. Trainer Christine Janks said she has been elated with Stop a Train's steady progress.

Of the others, La Reason has been faring respectably in graded races, earning more than $250,000 this year while facing the likes of Oonagh Maccool, Spun Sugar, Fleet Indian, and Happy Ticket. Beautiful Bets will be making her seventh start at as many racetracks and has finished no worse than fourth in her last 10 starts. And Victoire Bataille, who will be retired after this race, according to trainer Bob Holthus, has been a viable entity on turf and now makes a move to Polytrack.

The Turfway BC, which has been won by such standouts as Winning Colors (1989), Mariah's Storm (1995), and Spain (2000) in its 20-year history, leads off the Kentucky Cup series as the sixth of 12 Saturday races.