10/27/2010 2:24PM

Fayette draws trio of graded stakes winners from spring meet

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Patrick Lang/Lang Photography
Exhi, winning the Coolmore Lexington in April, returns to Keeneland for Saturday's closing-day feature, the Fayette.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Keeneland Race Course will end its 17-day fall meet Saturday with a terrific running of the $150,000 Fayette Stakes, a Grade 2 race that drew a field to match, including colts who accounted for the two major 3-year-old events run over Polytrack here last spring.

Stately Victor, winner of the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes in April, was assigned post 1 in a field of 10, while Exhi, whose four wins in as many starts over synthetic surfaces include the Grade 2 Coolmore Lexington, got post 7.

In addition, the 1 1/8-mile Fayette will mark the return of Dubious Miss, a 6-year-old gelding who underwent minor ankle surgery after capturing the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at the spring meet.

Exhi was mostly struggling for trainer Todd Pletcher until being switched to synthetics, when he reeled off four straight stakes wins. He returned to dirt for his last two races, finishing second in the West Virginia Derby, then fourth in the Pennsylvania Derby.

“He’s run some creditable races on dirt, but it seems like the Poly really complements his style,” said Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy.

The Fayette was won last year by a 3-year-old, Blame, who went on to win the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in his next start before becoming a leading candidate for top older horse in 2010.

Record number of Breeders’ Cup pre-entries

Breeders’ Cup and Churchill officials were all smiles when officially unveiling the lists of pre-entries at a Wednesday media conference at the Louisville track. The 184 pre-entries are the highest in event history, surpassing the 171 for the 2008 running at Santa Anita.

“We knew we would have big fields here at Churchill,” said Greg Avioli, president of the Breeders’ Cup. “Horsemen like it here.”

Avioli came armed with a number of impressive statistics regarding the pre-entries, including their collective totals of 865 career wins and earnings of more than $125 million.

Avioli reiterated during the conference that any decision on whether the Breeders’ Cup ultimately will settle on a permanent site would not be made at least until after the 2011 championships are run at Churchill.

Position Limit to be auctioned

With a little luck, Position Limit would have likely been the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Instead, the undefeated 2-year-old has been forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup and will join Grade 3 winners Ailalea and Caminadora as racing/broodmare prospects along with the Grade 1-winning stallion prospect Take the Points the following week in the Fasig-Tipton November sale.

All four horses are owned by Jack and Laurie Wolf’s Starlight Partners, who had planned to follow the same pattern with Position Limit that had worked so well in previous years with both Ashado and Octave, who sold at Keeneland immediately after turning in good performances on Breeders’ Cup Day. Unfortunately a leg injury prematurely ended Position Limit’s juvenile campaign following her very impressive five-length triumph in Saratoga’s Grade 2 Adirondack.

“It’s really disappointing that she will not get the chance to run in the Breeders’ Cup,” said Todd Pletcher who trains the daughter of Bellamy Road just as he did Ailalea, Camindaroa and Take the Points for the Wolfs. “She showed us the potential to be as good as any 2-year-old filly we’ve had at this point of her career and it appeared she had both the physical ability and pedigree to love more distance. She certainly looked like the best of her division at the time of her injury.”

Pletcher also said he has made arrangements for Allure d’Amour, who did not travel to Kentucky with the rest of his Breeders’ Cup horses on Tuesday, to fly from New York on Sunday after learning she is now definitely in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

“I just wasn’t confident enough coming off only a maiden win that she was going to get into the race which is why I left her behind originally,” Pletcher explained.

Blame arrives from Keeneland

Blame, among the favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, arrived at Churchill Downs shortly after noon on Wednesday. Blame vanned over from Keeneland along with three other members of trainer Al Stall’s stable, including possible Juvenile starter J B’s Thunder.

Blame has been stabled at Keeneland since returning to Kentucky from Saratoga shortly after his game victory over Quality Road in the Grade 1 Whitney. Both he and the undefeated J B’s Thunder are scheduled to have their final Breeders’ Cup workouts here either Sunday or Monday morning.

Storm delays flight from New York

After a scary day of weather in the Louisville area Tuesday, the forecast is for smooth sailing through Breeders’ Cup weekend. Mostly sunny skies and temperatures reaching the high 60s are predicted through early next week, with more of the same in the long-range forecast, albeit with slightly cooler temperatures.

Gale-force winds and heavy rain pounded this area around midday Tuesday, forcing a charter flight from New York carrying five Pletcher-trained horses, including Uncle Mo and Life At Ten, to be delayed about an hour, according to Tex Sutton representative Buddy Fife.

“The plane left maybe a half-hour late, and then a 90-minute flight took about two hours when they re-routed to miss the heavy stuff,” said Fife. “It all ended up fine.”

◗ Fields for the opening-day features of the Churchill fall meet, the Grade 2 Pocahontas and Grade 3 Iroquois on Sunday, have been shaping up with small- to medium-sized fields, according to racing officials. The one-mile events anchor the traditional “Stars of Tomorrow” program comprised of races exclusively for 2-year-olds. Entries for all opening-day races were to be drawn Thursday.

◗ Rosemary Homeister Jr. will be riding regularly at the Churchill meet, according to her new agent, Steve Elzey. Homeister, a winner of nearly 2,400 races in her 19-year career, has been riding primarily at Delaware Park of late.

◗ Besides being able to purchase tickets for the Breeders’ Cup and other Churchill events on-line, fans also can now buy them at a new walk-up box office at the track during normal business hours. The box office is located at Gate 1 adjacent to the Kentucky Derby Museum.

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch