10/21/2002 11:00PM

Moonlight Sonata in turf debut


Veteran trainer Bill Helmbrecht shot for the moon last month with Moonlight Sonata, and the results were stunning. A 60-1 upset in the Arlington-Washington Lassie was the first victory in five career starts for Moonlight Sonata and it brought up logical questions about whether to proceed to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

After careful consideration, Helmbrecht employed admirable discretion in saying he would pass on the Breeders' Cup and search for a less demanding spot.

The result is that Moonlight Sonata will make her grass debut Thursday in the $100,000 Green River Stakes at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. Eight other 2-year-old fillies also were entered in the Green River, a 1 1/16-mile turf race. Off her 1 3/4-length win in the Grade 3 Lassie, Moonlight Sonata is an obvious contender, but her lack of grass experience makes the Green River a rather tricky exercise in handicapping.

Using grass form alone, Sand Springs may be the filly to beat. Bred and owned by Willmott Stables, she won a turf route at first asking in August and subsequently finished third in the Grade 3 Natalma at Woodbine in her next start. Her lone attempt since was a poor effort on dirt in the Alcibiades three weeks ago, but trainer Tony Reinstedler has dismissed that race because of the surface it was run on. The fact Pat Day has accepted the mount speaks for itself.

Other challengers include Fabulous Brush, winner of the Bassinet Stakes, and Lil Scout, winner of the Oct. 9 prep for this race.

Four allowance races also are carded for Thursday, when first post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.

Tenpins solid in closing-day feature

Tenpins figures as a solid favorite on Saturday's closing-day card in the $150,000 Fayette Stakes, a Grade 3 race that is shaping up with a small field.

Besides Tenpins, winner of the Washington Park Handicap in his last start, the 1 1/8-mile Fayette figures to get Crafty Shaw, Race on Green, Rock Slide, X Country, and maybe another starter or two, according to stakes coordinator Dan Bork.

Pure Prize, winner of the Kentucky Cup Classic, will not start, said Bork.

Ack Ack at Churchill Sunday

After Keeneland closes, racing on the Kentucky circuit resumes the following day at Churchill Downs, where the traditional fall meet opener is the $100,000 Ack Ack Stakes, a Grade 3 race at the seldom-run distance of 7 1/2 furlongs.

Probables for the Ack Ack are Binthebest, Bright Valour, Cojet, Danthebluegrassman, Lugny, Mountain General, Slider, and Twilight Road.

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