Updated on 09/15/2011 1:07PM

Keeneland top-heavy with stakes


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Many of the top prospects for the Oct. 27 World Thoroughbred Championships will have their final preps next weekend at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, where the 17-day fall meet opens with 10 stakes, six of them graded, during the first three days of the meet.

The graded races are situated as key preps for all but two of the eight Breeders' Cup races, the Classic and Turf. Probably the race with the most impact on the Breeders' Cup will be the Three Chimneys Spinster Stakes, a preview of the BC Distaff. Nominations for all of the opening weekend stakes were released Friday.

This is how the weekend will unfold:

Friday: La Ronge, Tout Charmant, and Megans Bluff are probable for the Grade 2 $500,000 WinStar Galaxy (a prep for the BC Filly and Mare Turf).

The Grade 2 $400,000 Walmac International Alcibiades (BC Juvenile Fillies) is expected to get Take Charge Lady, Playing 'n Gold, Smok'n Frolic, Exotic Wager, and more.

Saturday: The Grade 2 $400,000 Breeders' Futurity (BC Juvenile) has probables that include Harlan's Holiday, Kamsack, Siphonic, and Sunkosi.

The likely favorite for the Grade 3 $250,000 Phoenix (BC Sprint) is Bet on Sunshine, who will run in the race for the fifth time. Hook and Ladder and Snow Ridge are other possibles.

Sunday: The Grade 1 $500,000 Spinster (BC Distaff) should be a terrific race, pitting such major winners as Lazy Slusan, Pompeii, and Unbridled Elaine. The 1 1/8-mile race long has been recognized as the highlight of the meet.

The Grade 2 $500,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (BC Mile) promises to be another good race. The probable cast includes Hap, North East Bound, Brahms, North East Bound, Mr Livingston, and others.

Although the fall meet normally opens on a Saturday, Keeneland was granted permission earlier this year to open on Friday, primarily because the meet is so top-heavy with important stakes. Keeneland purposely scheduled its major events for opening weekend because of the three-week lead-in period to

the Breeders' Cup.

*Trainer Mike Puype is back from California for the fall meets at Keeneland and Churchill. Puype, who trains exclusively for Gary Biszantz's Cobra Farm, will have as many as 17 horses stabled at Churchill. "Gary has reconsolidated his operation back to Kentucky," explained Puype.

*Turfway Park will hold its semi-annual handicapping contest Sunday. First prize is $10,000 and a berth in the National Handicapping Finals in Las Vegas early next year. Entry fee is $100.

*A full field of fillies and mares, headed by Legendary Lady and One Tough Cat, is entered in the Sunday feature at Turfway, a $26,600 allowance at six furlongs. After being dark Monday and Tuesday, Turfway will run the final two cards of its 22-day fall meet Wednesday and Thursday.