04/18/2006 11:00PM

McKay BC will not be run

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The centerpiece of Pimlico's Spring Festival of Racing program on Saturday will be conspicuous by its absence.

The Jim McKay Breeders' Cup Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race for 3-year-olds and up, had to be canceled when only four horses were entered on Wednesday.

As a result, the feature among four stakes on the first Saturday of Pimlico's meet becomes the $125,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds. The 1 1/8-mile race, which occasionally produces a starter or two for next month's Preakness, drew a field of 11.

The card's three other stakes, worth $125,000 each, are restricted to Maryland Million-nominated or Maryland-bred runners.

Although the McKay was listed as the festival's richest race with a $200,000 purse, its basic value was $75,000, with the rest of money in bonuses. Of the remainder, $75,000 came from the Breeders' Cup Fund and $25,000 apiece from the Maryland-bred Fund and the Maryland Million Fund.

The McKay was also hurt by the presence of the Grade 3, $250,000 National Jockey Club Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race at Hawthorne, on Saturday's racing calendar. The Hawthorne race attracted Evening Attire and Colita, two of the strongest horses among 18 nominees for the McKay.

The Maryland Jockey Club will not bring back the McKay later in the meet, because its conditions are identical to the Grade 3, $100,000 William D. Schaeffer Handicap on Preakness Day.

Vegas Play, who captured the restricted Maryland Juvenile Championship on New Year's Eve, and Our Peak, who narrowly defeated Ah Day in last month's Private Terms at Laurel Park, are the only stakes winners in the Tesio.

The field also includes Ah Day and Scanlon's Song, a distant fourth to Bob and John over a sloppy track at Aqueduct in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 8.

Among the three restricted stakes, the Northview Stallion for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles came up with the biggest and best field.

The 12 runners include Silmaril and Grant's Moon, who were separated by 1 1/2 lengths as the one-two finishers in this same race last year.

For Kisses, a winner of three straight races since January, and Somethinaboutbetty, winner of the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship, head a six-horse field in the the Country Life Farm for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.

Great Seneca, winner of the Dancing Count at Laurel on New Year's Day, and Travelin Leroy, cutting back in distance after being soundly beaten twice by Lawyer Ron at Oaklawn Park, are among nine 3-year-olds in the six-furlong Maryland Stallion Station.