10/05/2010 1:50PM

Fall meet opens Friday with Darley Alcibiades, Phoenix

Four-Footed Fotos
Wonderlandbynight, winning the Arlington-Washington Lassie, is among the contenders in Friday's Darley Alcibiades.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Keeneland Race Course will kick off its 17-day fall meet and “FallStars Weekend” on Friday with a 10-race card, one that drew horses from all across North America to set the tone for what should be three weeks of terrific racing.

The opening-day feature is the Grade 1, $400,000 Darley Alcibiades for 2-year-old fillies. Wickedly Perfect, second as the favorite in the Del Mar Debutante last out, has shipped in from California for the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race and will face fillies who made their last starts at Saratoga, Woodbine, Arlington, and elsewhere.

Wickedly Perfect is trained by Doug O’Neill and will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who was a four-time leading rider here before leaving for the southern California circuit in 2007. A gray Florida-bred filly, Wickedly Perfect figures prominently from the start of a race that appears to lack much speed. Wonderlandbynight, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington Washington Lassie in her last start, could be among her main challengers.

The Alcibiades serves as a lead-in for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. In fact, the three-day opening weekend is full of Breeders’ Cup preps, with eight of the 10 stakes being Win and You’re In races toward the Nov. 5-6 championships at Churchill Downs.

The Friday opener also includes the Grade 2, $175,000 Phoenix Stakes, which will have Grade 1 winner Warrior’s Reward as the likely favorite in a field of 11 older horses.

Wayne Catalano, fresh off a record-breaking meet as the leading trainer at Arlington, has starters in both the Alcibiades and Phoenix with Jordy Y and Super Robusto, respectively.

“We brought a full barn here to run,” said Catalano. “We’re like a lot of other folks, just excited to be here at Keeneland.”

The Phoenix goes as race 8 and the Alcibiades as race 9. First post daily is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

The Saturday card will include six stakes, three of them Grade 1’s, including the richest race of the meet, the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile. The first Arabian race in track history, the $50,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, also is set for Saturday.

Keeneland will run on a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule through Oct. 30. Purses have been cut by more than $1 million, although per-day purses still will average about $575,000, according to racing secretary Ben Huffman. The meet will mark the first time that some of the bigger Kentucky stables will be active on this circuit since Churchill closed its spring meet July 4.

TVG, which will sponsor a $200,000-guaranteed late pick four every Friday, will have extensive coverage throughout the meet.

Ideal weather is in the forecast for opening weekend, with sunny skies and high temperatures in the high 70s.