10/17/2011 12:33PM

Keeneland: Distance a question mark in pair of allowance races


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Going the distance will be the focus of back-to-back, first-level allowance races Wednesday at Keeneland. The first is for 3-year-olds and upward at the rarely-run expanse of 1 1/4 miles on Polytrack, while the second is a mile turf race for 2-year-old fillies, most of whom have never raced that far.

The allowance for 2-year-olds, the eighth of nine races, will have Rainbow Blossom as one of the main contenders in a field of 11 – assuming she fares considerably better when returning to grass after a miserable effort as the favorite in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies on the Turfway Poly.

“Her race at Turfway was almost like a disaster from the get-go,” said trainer Mike Stidham. “She got all stirred up in the paddock and never did settle down. She was fractious in the gate and never did any running at all.

“She’s probably best on the grass anyway. She’d been working real well all summer on the Poly at Arlington, but the track at Turfway seems to be looser with more kickback, and she never handled it at all. We’re happy to be getting her back on the grass and we’ll get to see where we are with her. She’s trained very well since the Turfway race and is really doing well.”

Rainbow Blossom already has shown she can get the mile distance and handle the turf, having done just that in winning a Sept. 2 maiden race at Arlington Park before finishing last of nine at Turfway three weeks later. She will break from post 8 on Wednesday with Robby Albarado aboard.

Conversely, six of her Wednesday opponents have never raced as far as a mile, including a couple who figure as prime contenders: Miss Ruud (post 1, Edgar Prado), a maiden winner here opening weekend in a seven-furlong Poly race, and Customer Base (post 2, Julien Leparoux), who earned a field-high 82 Beyer Speed Figure in winning her only start at 5 1/2 furlongs over the Del Mar Poly.

Other logical considerations include Songs and Sonnets, also a maiden winner at a mile over the Arlington turf, and Dream Pegasus, who gets first-time Lasix after being scratched from the Jessamine Stakes last week to await this lighter spot.

Thirty minutes beforehand, a field of nine will start from well up the Keeneland stretch when traveling the traditional Kentucky Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles. The probable favorite is Newsdad, who makes a rare dip into the allowance ranks when leaving behind a steady diet of rugged assignments versus fellow 3-year-olds, including the Blue Grass, Peter Pan, Virginia Derby, and Secretariat. Jesus Castanon will be aboard in post 2 when taking the call from trainer Bill Mott.

Top challengers in race 7 include Big Top, Pleasant Run, and an interesting trio of outside runners, all of whom have been specializing in starter-allowance marathons on the Tapeta synthetic at Presque Isle Downs: Shakeyourgroovething, King Congo, and Cursesandblessings.

First post Wednesday is 1:15 p.m. Eastern. Stakes action resumes here Thursday with the Grade 3, $100,000 Sycamore for older turf marathoners.