10/12/2004 11:00PM

Longer distance keeps Riskaverse and Stay Forever on fence


Because of the configuration of the Lone Star turf course, the 2004 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf will be decided at 1 3/8 miles, an eighth of a mile farther than each of the last three renewals. And what a difference that extra furlong makes.

Riskaverse and Stay Forever captured two of the three most important U.S. preps for the Filly and Mare Turf, the Grade 1 Flower Bowl and Grade 2 WinStar Galaxy Stakes, while Musical Chimes won an important stepping-stone on the road to the Breeders' Cup when she defeated males in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile. If this year's Filly and Mare Turf were run at 1 1/4 miles, the decision to enter would likely be a no-brainer for the connections of all three horses. Instead, trainers Pat Kelly and Marty Wolfson remain on the fence about Riskaverse and Stay Forever, while trainer Neil Drysdale has all but ruled out the Filly and Mare Turf for Musical Chimes in favor of the shorter Mile.

Kelly had not even considered the Breeders' Cup as an option for Riskaverse until she upset the 1 1/4-mile Flower Bowl. It marked the first time Riskaverse had won a race beyond 1 1/8 miles.

"The distance of this year's Breeders' Cup is our only concern - going a mile and three-eighths around three turns with all that potential traffic," said Kelly. "I plan to work her Sunday, and if all goes well, we'll at least pre-enter for the race on Monday."

Trainer Marty Wolfson also changed his mind about Stay Forever after the 7-year-old rallied from last to win the 1 3/16-mile WinStar Galaxy. Like Riskaverse's victory, the win was Stay Forever's first beyond 1 1/8 miles.

"My big hang-up is the three turns more than the distance, because she has no tactical speed," said Wolfson. "The only other time she tried a mile and three-eighths was around three turns at Gulfstream Park, and she ran poorly."

Wolfson said he will likely pre-enter Stay Forever on Monday.

Confirmed starters for the Filly and Mare Turf include Wonder Again, Light Jig, Film Maker, and Moscow Burning, whose stablemate Katdogawn is also likely to be supplemented into the field. Nebraska Tornado is expected to come over from France, while final decisions are pending on two other key European contenders, Ouija Board and Yesterday.

Crimson Palace, who missed the Flower Bowl after losing valuable training time following her victory in the Grade 1 Beverly D., is also being pointed for the race. She worked seven furlongs in 1:28.76 on dirt Monday at Belmont.

A field of six to eight 3-year-old fillies is expected for Saturday's Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. The QEII has become a less attractive prep now that it is run just two weeks out from Breeders' Cup Day.

F&M TurfContenders
3-year-olds & up, Fillies & Mares, 1 3/8 miles (turf). Purse: $1 million.

1Ouija BoardE. Dunlop5-2
English and Irish Oaks winner, and Arc third, holds the key to this race
2Light JigR. Frankel6-1
Overwhelming winner of the Yellow Ribbon has a fine chance here
3Crimson PalaceS. bin Suroor5-1
This may come up tougher than her Beverly D.; is a 20% supplement
4Grey LilasA. Fabre8-1
If she comes, and it's still iffy, it would be for this, and not the Mile
5Nebraska TornadoA. Fabre12-1
Has been a disappointment, but may prefer this longer distance
6YesterdayA. O'Brien15-1
Third in this race last year, and seems to be rounding to top form
7RiskaverseP. Kelly12-1
No cinch to start even after running a good one in the Flower Bowl
8Wonder AgainJ. Toner12-1
Her fade in the Flower Bowl on her home court was not encouraging
9Moscow BurningJ. Cassidy15-1
Has yet to beat the best in her division, but has been very close
10Stay ForeverM. Wolfson20-1
Always thought she was underrated, but this is a very ambitious spot

- The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.