10/01/2009 11:00PM

Keeneland weekend has Cup appeal


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Nine graded stakes, all but one of them guaranteeing the winner a spot in the Breeders' Cup, are set for the three-day opening weekend at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., where the 17-day fall meet will get away to its customary fast start Friday.

Two stakes will be run on both the Friday and Sunday cards, bookending a Saturday program that will include five stakes, three of them Grade 1's. All nine stakes except the Woodford on Saturday carry Win and You're In designations toward the Nov. 6-7 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.

Here is a quick early look at what has become known as FallStars Weekend at the front-loaded Keeneland meet:

* Grade 1, $500,000 Darley Alcibiades (Friday): Beautician, runner-up in the Grade 1 Spinaway, and the undefeated Chicago filly She Be Wild are among the 2-year-old fillies ready for this 1 1/16-mile race.

* Grade 3, $250,000 Phoenix (Friday): This six-furlong fixture is likely to get Capt. Candyman Can, Greeley's Conquest, and My Pal Charlie among a short field.

* Grade 1, $600,000, Shadwell Turf Mile (Saturday): Justenuffhumor brings his six-race winning streak to the richest race of the meet, which also will get a short field, including Mr. Sidney.

* Grade 1, $500,000 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (Saturday): Backtalk, Dixie Band, and Stately Victor are among the known prospects in what should be a sizable field in this 1 1/16-mile race, considering 44 2-year-olds are nominated.

* Grade 1, $400,000 First Lady (Saturday): Defending divisional champion Forever Together will be a solid favorite over Acoma, Diamondrella, My Princess Jess, and maybe a few other fillies and mares in this one-mile turf race.

* Grade 2, $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (Saturday): Informed Decision should be odds-on in this six-furlong race, for which just 19 fillies and mares were nominated.

* Grade 3, $125,000 Woodford (Saturday): This should be one of the more competitive races of the weekend, with 26 older turf-sprint specialists having been nominated, including Awakino Cat, Chamberlain Bridge, Fort Prado, and Mr. Nightlinger.

* Grade 1, $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (Sunday): Icon Project passed on the Beldame at Belmont in favor of this 1 1/8-mile race and should be a solid favorite in what looks like another short- to mid-sized field.

* Grade 3, $125,000 Bourbon (Sunday): This 1 1/16-mile turf race should be quite competitive, with Family Foundation, Gleam of Hope, and Scottkeith'skitten among the 35 2-year-olds nominated.

The fall meet runs through Oct. 31, with Mondays and Tuesdays dark. Subsequent races of note include the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Oct. 17, the Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run on Oct. 24, and the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes on Oct. 31.

Keeneland announced Friday that it will provide simulcast outlets a full 15-camera high-definition production of all its races.

Maker leaving his mark

When trainer Mike Maker saddled Furthest Land to win the Sept. 26 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., it capped a sensational tear for the 40-year-old Michigan native.

Furthest Land was part of a 12-for-17 streak that went from Sept. 19-26 and included 7 wins at Turfway, 3 at Belmont, 1 at Louisiana Downs, and 1 at Kentucky Downs.

Maker is already well on pace to surpass the career highs he set last year with 140 wins and more than $3.2 million in earnings. The KC Classic added to his growing list of feats in the six years since he opened a public stable following about 10 years under Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, including his track-record 31 wins at the 2008 Churchill Downs fall meet.

Brass Hat getting time off

Brass Hat has been turned out on the Frankfort, Ky., farm of trainer Buff Bradley after coming out of the Sept. 7 Stars and Stripes Handicap at Arlington Park with a minor splint injury.

"It looks like he got hit on the outside of his leg," said Bradley. "It looks fine, and the swelling has gone down, but since we were only pointing for one more race this fall, we decided to give him the time off now and bring him back at Gulfstream Park."

Brass Hat, an earner of more than $2 million, will be 9 next year.

Nothing in a name

Veteran trainer Mike Lauer has been around long enough to remember when a top filly named Safe won a division of the 1978 Pocahontas at Churchill and the 1979 Spinster at Keeneland, as well as other major Midwest races. But when Lauer sent out a 2-year-old filly named Safe to win a $30,000 maiden-claiming race Monday at Kentucky Downs, there was no hidden or nostalgic meaning to her name.

"The truth is we submitted four or five different names for her, and they were all rejected by the Jockey Club," said Lauer. "Finally it was time for her to run, and they've got a list of preapproved names you can pick from. I was surprised, but Safe was on that list, so we said, 'That'll do.' "

Cameras to start rolling at Churchill

Filming for the upcoming Disney movie "Secretariat" will begin Monday at Churchill and is expected to last about five days. The Churchill grounds are being transformed to appear as if it were 1973, including signage in the paddock and grandstand. Filming had taken place over the last two weeks or so at Keeneland, which is purported to be Belmont Park in the film. "Secretariat" stars Diane Lane and John Malkovich and is scheduled for release in October 2010.

* Apprentice rider Amanda Tamburello notched the first win of her career when she guided Include de Uno to an 18-1 upset in the third race Thursday night at Turfway. Tamburello, an exercise rider for the last several years, has an extensive background in dressage and show jumping. The mount was the 15th of her career.

* The nominal Sunday feature at Turfway is a $26,000 second-level allowance that drew a field of nine 3-year-olds and upward. After Sunday, just two more nights of racing (Wednesday and Thursday) remain at Turfway before four months of winter action begins Nov. 29.