10/09/2009 12:00AM

Figures point to Asphalt


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Todd Pletcher has the numbers with his horses. But Eddie Kenneally might well have the horse with the number.

Kenneally will send out Asphalt, a colt who earned an 89 Beyer Speed Figure in capturing a Sept. 20 maiden turf race in last start at Belmont Park. That number is the highest recorded yet among the overflow field of 2-year-olds entered Sunday at Keeneland in the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile turf race in which Pletcher has three scheduled starters, including the morning-line favorite, Interactif.

Asphalt is by the noted turf sire War Chant, and Kenneally is understandably excited about the $125,000 Bourbon, which is a Win and You're In race toward the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

"Sure, like anybody else, we'd like to move on to the Breeders' Cup if the results of this race say we should," said Kenneally. "We knew he'd like the grass, and he really showed us in that win at Belmont."

Corey Lanerie has the mount on Asphalt, who starts from post 5 in a field limited to 12 starters. Harrods Creek is the lone also-eligible.

Asphalt, owned by Joseph Riccelli, is among at least a half-dozen youngsters who would qualify as an unsurprising winner of the Bourbon. The most logical winner is Interactif (post 4), who exploded for a 4 1/4-length triumph at nearly 16-1 in one of the few notable grass stakes run so far in the division, the Sept. 4 With Anticipation at Saratoga. Kent Desormeaux has the return call for Pletcher, who also will send out Modern Cowboy (post 2), a debut winner at Delaware Park, and Exhi (post 8), who, like Asphalt, was a sharp winner on the Belmont turf in his latest out.

Pletcher has won two of the last three runnings of the Bourbon with Twilight Meteor (2006) and Bittel Road (2008).

Others to consider Sunday include Scottkeith'skitten, whose ninth-place finish in the off-the-turf Cradle Stakes seems forgivable; Billions Boy, a speedy winner of a maiden turf route at Saratoga; Family Foundation, a rousing winner of back-to-back turf races at Arlington Park; and Guys Reward, the Cradle runner-up.

This is the 19th running of the Bourbon, which directly precedes the Grade 1 Spinster as the eighth of 10 Sunday races. Probably the most accomplished prior champion is Gio Ponti, the 2007 winner.