10/03/2012 12:32PM

Keeneland: Alcibiades draws fillies from all over

Barbara D. Livingston
Magical Moon enters the Alcibiades off a 10-length romp on the Saratoga turf.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Darley Alcibiades Stakes often has proved a tongue-twister for newcomers to Keeneland, so trainer Al Stall Jr. has come up with a simpler name – at least as it applies to the 61st Alcibiades, which helps to open the 17-day fall meet Friday.

“It’s the United Nations,” said Stall. “It’s a melting pot of fillies from everywhere. It’s really hard to figure this one out.”

Indeed, with 2-year-olds convening at Keeneland after making their respective last starts everywhere from Canada to Florida, from New York to California, the Grade 1, $400,000 Alcibiades is a fitting feature to open the meet. Track linemaker Mike Battaglia has listed 5-1 co-favorites on a morning line, and that speaks volumes to the depth of the race.

Stall, with a rocket-ship Saratoga maiden winner named Magical Moon, figures he stands as good a chance as anyone. Along with Speedinthruthecity, she is one of the co-favorites in the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race.

Magical Moon, with Rosie Napravnik back to ride, was assigned post 13 in an oversubscribed lineup in the Alcibiades, which begins and ends at what otherwise is the sixteenth pole. As many as 14 can start, with two also-eligibles waiting to get in.

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“Obviously we’re all just trying to see where we fit into the big picture,” said Stall. “Our filly is coming off that fast race on the Saratoga grass, and I figure she’s got to be forward in there. You wouldn’t say it’s ideal, but drawing the outside is probably better than maybe getting trapped in a little pocket with pressure from the outside. So we should be good.”

Stall said Magical Moon was shipped to train over the Keeneland Poly shortly after earning an 82 Beyer Speed Figure (tied for highest in the field) for her 10-length triumph in the Aug. 24 turf sprint at Saratoga. Stall said that familiarity with the local surface, combined with her pedigree and training tendencies, have him convinced she could be a race-long factor Friday.

“She’s an awfully strong filly,” he said.

For all her plusses, plenty of other fillies could be heard from, too.

Speedinthruthecity, drawn alongside in post 12, has been a consistent performer in the Southern California stakes ranks. Julien Leparoux, the leading rider at the last four Keeneland meets, has accepted the mount from trainer Peter Miller.

Rose to Gold (post 3) has been spectacular while beating up on lesser company at Calder, winning two stakes by huge margins while flaunting breakaway speed. Jesus Rios retains the mount for trainer Sal Santoro.

The first three finishers from the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie – Gold Edge, La Song, and Dancinginthecircle – all return, with Gold Edge trying to stay unbeaten in four career starts, all for trainer Lon Wiggins.

“Tough race,” said Wiggins, whose retired father, Hal Wiggins, was the leading trainer here at the 1998 fall meet. “She’s going into it the way we want her to. We’ll find out if she’s good enough or not. She deserves a chance to be there.”

Other considerations in a race replete with them are Pure Indy, a California shipper for Craig Dollase; Spring in the Air and Kitten’s Dumplings, the two-four finishers in the Grade 2 Natalma last month at Woodbine; and the uncoupled Todd Pletcher duo of Tara From the Cape and Skyfall.

The Alcibiades, designed as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, is one of seven Win and You’re In races to be run on the opening three-day FallStars Weekend. Post time is 5:21 p.m. Eastern.

The 2011 Alcibiades winner at 9-1 was Stephanie’s Kitten, who went on to capture the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf for Wayne Catalano in her next start. Catalano is back Friday with La Song.