07/03/2002 12:00AM

Fall meet front-loaded with Cup prep races

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Keeneland Race Course released its fall stakes schedule Wednesday, and, as usual, the meet is front-loaded with prep races for the World Thoroughbred Championships.

Six graded races, all designed as final preps for the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup races at Arlington Park, will be run during the opening three-day weekend of the fall meet at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. The 17-day meet runs Oct. 4-26.

Two Grade 1 races will be run Oct. 6, anchoring opening weekend: the $500,000 Overbrook Spinster, and the $600,000 Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile. The Shadwell Mile underwent a $100,000 purse increase and was a Grade 2 race until being upgraded for this year.

Opening weekend also will include the $400,000 Walmac International Alcibiades and $500,000 WinStar Galaxy on Oct. 4, and the $400,000 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity and $250,000 Phoenix Breeders' Cup on Oct. 5.

After opening weekend, the best race is the Grade 1, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Oct. 13. In all, the schedule of 19 stakes, which includes 11 graded events, is worth more than $4.4 million.