10/08/2003 11:00PM

Indy Five Hundred has it all

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Indy Five Hundred wins the Garden City Breeders' Cup in her last start, a four-length victory over Dimitrova that greatly impressed jockey Pat Day.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Contrary to what the race name might imply, royal bloodlines are not a prerequisite to victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. In fact, exceptional recent form overrides pedigree, and even more importantly, a huge effort on race day is the best weapon of all.

All of those critical factors could come together for Indy Five Hundred on Saturday afternoon, when the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II will be run at Keeneland for the 20th time. A daughter of the renowned sire A.P. Indy out of a successful Lyphard mare, Indy Five Hundred enters the 1 1/8-mile turf race in terrific form, having defeated the highly regarded Dimitrova by four emphatic lengths when she won the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup in her most recent race.

Moreover, her Hall of Fame jockey, Pat Day, is looking for another big performance Saturday.

"She dropped down and really punched home that day," said Day. "I mean, she really dug down and gave me a tremendous run. I know that historically this race is a really tough one, but I feel real good about our chances. I think of lot of the filly."

Indy Five Hundred, based in New York with trainer Bobby Barbara, is one of the top contenders in a field of 10 invitees in the $500,000 QEII. As usual, as one of the premier events in the niche division of 3-year-old turf fillies, the race drew an outstanding field, with Spoken Fur, Casual Look, and at least several others eligible to give Indy Five Hundred all she can handle.

Spoken Fur is probably the most intriguing of the group, having already won two Grade 1 races on dirt but never having raced on grass. Trainer Bobby Frankel, who already has won a record 23 Grade 1 races this year, not only will be represented in the QEII by Spoken Fur, but also by Personal Legend, who most recently finished third in the Del Mar Oaks in late August.

Casual Look, a Red Ransom filly bred in Kentucky by her owner, Will Farish, brings the most exotic form into the race, having made all 10 of her starts in the United Kingdom. Easily the most notable of her efforts was a victory in the Group 1 Epsom Oaks in June.

"I don't know a whole lot about her, other than she tends to do her best running from four to six lengths off the lead," said Neil Howard, who will assume the training of Casual Look from Andrew Balding following the QEII. "She's a Group 1 winner, so we're hopeful she'll match up real well with these fillies. If she runs like we hope, then Mr. Farish is keeping an eye on the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

The rest of the QEII cast includes the uncoupled Darley Stable pair of Maiden Tower, trained by Henri-Alex Pantall, and Campsie Fells, trained by Christophe Clement; the uncoupled Willmott Stables duo of Sand Springs and Aud, both trained by Tony Reinstedler; Film Maker, winner of the Lake George at Saratoga for Graham Motion; and Ocean Drive, already a four-time stakes winner and trained by Todd Pletcher.

The QEII is carded as the eighth of 10 races on a Saturday card that also includes four allowances (races 5, 7, 9, 10). Post time for the QEII is 4:45 p.m. Eastern. Live coverage of the race will be provided by ESPN on a one-hour show that begins at 4 p.m. The broadcast also will include replays of the Prix de l'Opera and Prix de l'Abbaye from Longchamp last Sunday.

The QEII has been a highlight of the Keeneland fall meet since its 1984 inception, when Sintra prevailed under Keith Allen. Perhaps the most accomplished champion in QEII history is the 1999 winner, Perfect Sting, who captured the 2000 BC Filly and Mare Turf just over a year later. The QEII winner last year was Riskaverse, trained by Pat Kelly and ridden by Mark Guidry.

The weather in the Lexington area has been extremely pleasant since the Keeneland meet began Oct. 3, but that could change by Saturday. A high chance of rain was forecast for Friday, and evening showers were forecast for Saturday.

The field

Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup

Purse: $500,000; 1 1/8 miles (turf); Grade 1

1Spoken FurC. Velasquez5-1
2Personal LegendJ. Santos10-1
3Maiden TowerD. Flores7-2
4Campsie FellsB. Blanc10-1
5Sand SpringsM. Guidry12-1
6AudB. Peck15-1
7Casual LookR. Albarado9-2
8Indy Five HundredP. Day3-1
9Film MakerE. Prado15-1
10Ocean DriveJ. Velazquez15-1

* All starters carry 121 pounds

* Odds by Kristin Sadler

* Television: Saturday, 4-5 p.m. (Eastern); ESPN