10/20/2009 12:00AM

Laureate Conductor leads solid turf crew

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 17-day Keeneland fall meet hits its midway point Wednesday, and it's pretty obvious that what has come before is of greater significance than what is still ahead. That's the nature of a meet front-loaded with numerous prep races for the Breeders' Cup.

No sweat. Plenty of high-class racing still remains, and the nine-race Wednesday program is a case in point. Three allowance races are on tap, capped by a $54,000 turf marathon that occupies the usual race-eight feature slot.

Twelve 3-year-olds and upward are entered under a second-level allowance condition, but several have already demonstrated the potential to go well beyond that level. Laureate Conductor, handled by the same connections of the turf star Gio Ponti, is one of those, having already amassed considerable experience in grass races of note.

Laureate Conductor, a 3-year-old Bernstein colt owned by Castleton Lyons Farm and trained by Christophe Clement, was assigned post 2 with Julien Leparoux to ride in the 1 1/2-mile turf race that anchors the Wednesday card. After winning a Belmont maiden race in June, he won the Choice Stakes at Monmouth, then was a good third in the Grade 1 Secretariat before disappointing as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park in his most recent appearance.

Several of his opponents can boast similarly classy resumes. Perfect Shower (post 12) will make his first start since posting a 46-1 upset in the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Aug. 2 Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine. Thabazimbi (post 9), a sharp turf allowance winner here in the spring, most recently was third in the Grade 2 Bowling Green at Belmont. And Silver Mountain (post 1) comes off back-to-back thirds in the John's Call at Saratoga and Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs.

As for the earlier allowances, an overflow field of fillies and mares will go 1 1/16 miles on the turf in the $52,000 fifth, a terrific betting race that might have Leparoux and Cades Bay a slight favorite. And in the $54,000 seventh race, only six are entered in a second-level race at 1 1/16 miles over the Polytrack, with Cliffy's Future, winner of the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park in March, being one of the main contenders.

First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.