10/12/2012 3:08PM

Keeneland: Nechez Dawn tops featured turf sprint

Benoit & Associates
Nechez Dawn won the Daisycutter Stakes over the Del Mar turf in August.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A weekend program at Keeneland without a stakes race might seem something like a White Castle slider missing its dill pickle slice. Either way, you’re probably going to like it.

Indeed, the nine-race Sunday program offers nothing better than four consecutive allowance races, as if that’s not appetizing enough. Perhaps the most interesting is the one that occupies the customary race-eight feature slot and carries this somewhat unusual condition: for 3-year-old fillies who have never won a graded stakes. The 5 1/2-furlong turf race got a handful of lesser stakes winners, with West Coast shipper Nechez Dawn likely to be a clear-cut favorite for jockey Kent Desormeaux and trainer Jeff Bonde.

Nechez Dawn won the Daisycutter Stakes over the Del Mar turf in August before finishing a respectable fourth behind some of the top filly-mare sprinters in North America in the $200,000 Turf Amazon at Parx.

Other contenders include Heaven Knows What, a fleet 3-year-old from the ever-dangerous barn of Michael Trombetta; Anna Sophia, a two-back winner of an allowance race over the Belmont Park turf for Bill Mott; and Atlantic Tap, who cuts back in distance and exits stakes races for Wayne Catalano.

In those preceding co-features:

◗ Race 5, $56,000, third-level allowance: Seal Cove, returning from a layoff of more than a year for trainer Shug McGaughey, and stateside newcomer Dimension are the obvious wild cards in this 1 1/8-mile turf race. Freshman Dorm, from the hot Mike Maker barn, and Formaggio also should contend.

◗ Race 6, $52,000, first-level allowance: This is one of those wide-open affairs that have come to characterize the first half of this 17-day fall meet. Ivanho is a lukewarm 3-1 program favorite for Mott, but maybe four or more of his nine opponents would not qualify as a surprise if they win, including Turbalo, Yes I’m Awesome, Relinquere, and a colt claimed this summer from Mott, Desert Storm.

◗ Race 7, $54,000, second-level allowance: A pair of stable couplings are part of this 1 1/16-mile Polytrack race for fillies and mares, including a Ken and Sarah Ramsey duo that includes Sisterhood, who was scratched Friday from a shorter race. Again, no standout here, with Zafeen’s Pearl – making her first start for Catalano after a summer in California – the 3-1 morning-line choice.

First post is the usual 1:05 p.m. Eastern. After Sunday, Keeneland goes dark for two days before another five-day race week resumes Wednesday.