10/13/2010 4:01PM

Franklin County could be West Ocean's stepping-stone to Breeders' Cup

Photos by Z/Keeneland
West Ocean, winning the Giant's Causeway this past spring, looks formidable in Friday's Franklin County.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Win and You’re In races already have been exhausted this fall at Keeneland, but a horse or two still conceivably could be impressive enough in a final prep here to convince his or her connections to wheel back in the Breeders’ Cup.

Case in point: West Ocean, a top-class female turf-sprint specialist who will be a solid favorite Friday in the $100,000 Franklin County Stakes at Keeneland and would seem to fit nicely – even against boys – off a big effort when the $1 million BC Turf Sprint is run Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.

Todd Pletcher, who trains West Ocean for the Wertheimer brothers, said he “perhaps” will consider the 4-year-old filly for the Breeders’ Cup, depending on what transpires Friday and in the days that follow.

Of more immediate concern is whether West Ocean can confirm the confidence that horseplayers are sure to show in her as she seeks her seventh victory from 12 lifetime starts. With John Velazquez riding from post 4, she would be extremely tough to beat Friday if she can run back to her race here in the spring, when she won the Giant’s Causeway Stakes by a widening 4 3/4 lengths to earn a career-high 99 Beyer Speed Figure.

One of the horses West Ocean will set in her sights could be Old Time Religion, although trainer Glenn Wismer said Wednesday he was unsure he would actually run the filly back off five days’ rest following a terrific front-running effort as the 69-1 runner-up in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes here last Saturday.

“Fifty years ago, if you wouldn’t run back in a race like this, people would think you’re crazy,” Wismer said with a laugh. “Nowadays you do it, and people think you’re crazy.”

Old Time Religion (post 2, Jimmy Graham) “came out of the race so good, and she’s so physically fit right now, that I’m tempted to go on and run,” said Wismer.

The 14th Franklin County, the ninth of 10 races, drew 13, although only as many as 12 can start.

Eight Win and You’re In events opened the meet during the three-day FallStars Weekend.

Friday is the once-a-meet College Scholarship Day that Keeneland hosts with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association.