10/23/2002 12:00AM

Lismore Knight's long wait nearly over


Just a few races into their careers, most of the 2-year-olds in the Hopemont Stakes already have earned black type.

Several are stakes placed, and several are stakes winners. And one, Lismore Knight, already is a Grade 2 winner, having captured the Sept. 8 Summer Stakes at Woodbine in his last start. That accumulation of youthful talent should make for a terrific renewal of the $100,000 Hopemont, a 1 1/16-mile turf race that highlights the Friday program.

Lismore Knight has been pointing to the Hopemont the entire meet, having shipped to Keeneland in early October for Todd Pletcher. A speedy colt who led all the way to win a six-furlong turf race at Belmont in his career debut, Lismore Knight has posted three sharp works over the main track in preparation for the Hopemont and most likely will be the favorite with Pat Day taking the call.

Probably the main threat is Zydeco Affair, who will be shooting for his third straight stakes win. Trained by Tony Richey for David "The Catfish King" Beard, Zydeco Affair will be ridden by Robby Albarado when he attempts to add the Hopemont to victories in the El Joven at Retama and the Manila at Arlington.

Other threats include Risky Cat, winner of a small stakes at Kentucky Downs last month; Rights Reserved, winner of the Colin at Woodbine before being overmatched in the Hopeful and the Grey; and Big Stone Gap, upset winner of an Oct. 10 prep at Keeneland.

The rest of the field is Alpler, Payforaday, Crowned King, Randwick, and Skeet. Two others, Rapid Proof and Collateral Damage, are on the also-eligible list.

Seven races on closing day program

Keeneland will run seven live races Saturday, when first post is 12:30 p.m. Eastern. Simulcasts of all eight Breeders' Cup races will be coordinated around the live races.

Saturday marks the final program of the 17-day meet. The $150,000 Fayette Stakes, a Grade 3 race for older horses, is the closing-day feature. Tenpins and Crafty Shaw are the likely favorites in the 1 1/8-mile Fayette.

* Churchill opens its five-week fall meet Sunday with the $100,000 Ack Ack Stakes for 3-year-olds and upward. Binthebest and Twilight Road are the probable favorites.

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