04/11/2004 11:00PM

Galloping Gal seeks turnaround


LEXINGTON, Ky. - So much done, and so much to do. The 15-day Keeneland spring meet reaches the midpoint Wednesday with a lot of great racing in the books, and yet plenty of intense racing action still remains.

The $100,000 Appalachian Stakes on Wednesday helps start the week and one of the race favorites, Galloping Gal, already has done quite a bit in her nascent career. Yet trainer Ken McPeek believes the late-running filly has plenty yet to do, and is hoping she can begin running as well at 3 as she did at 2.

"She was sick almost all of December," said McPeek. "So when she had her first race back," a sixth-place finish in a March 21 overnight stakes at Gulfstream Park, "she got pretty tired and hung the last part of it."

That 2004 debut was uncharacteristic of the way Galloping Gal had performed last year. A Victory Gallop filly owned by Bill Carl, Galloping Gal won two grass races to begin her career, then sandwiched a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Alcibiades Stakes and a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes around a victory in the Jessamine County Stakes on the Keeneland grass course. Her recent defeat at Gulfstream was her first in four career turf starts.

"I don't necessarily think she's strictly a grass filly," said McPeek, adding that he "probably wouldn't" consider Galloping Gal for the Kentucky Oaks on April 30 if she were to win here Wednesday. "But let's get through this first. We're just looking to get her back to her best. We'll worry about those other things later."

Galloping Gal, with Brice Blanc to ride, drew post 8 in a field of 10 3-year-old fillies in the Appalachian, a one-mile turf race that is the eighth race feature on a nine-race program.

Other logical contenders include Lucifer's Stone, winner of the Herecomesthebride Stakes in late February at Gulfstream Park, and two fillies who finished behind her in that Grade 3 race, Last Waltz and Honey Ryder.

The others in the field are Really American, Oblivious, My Vintage Port, Pink Champagne, Western Ransom, and Mocha Queen.

Three allowance races also are carded Wednesday, including a $54,000 route (race 7) that attracted Kentucky Derby hopeful Minister Eric, and a $67,000, stakes-caliber sprint for fillies and mares (race 3) that drew Ebony Breeze and Tina Bull. First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.