10/21/2010 1:56PM

Negligee gives Keeneland a third try in Raven Run


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Negligee has had two races over the Polytrack surface at Keeneland – one terrific, one not so much. A New York-based filly, she won the Grade 1 Alcibiades here last fall, then was seventh of eight in the Grade 1 Ashland in the spring.

A rubber match of sorts comes Saturday, when Negligee returns for yet another major stakes at Keeneland, the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at seven furlongs. Despite a sixth-place finish in her recent comeback at Belmont Park, Negligee figures to be among the lukewarm favorites in a wide-open field of 3-year-old fillies.

“We think she really likes that surface there,” said John Terranova, who trains Negligee, a daughter of Northern Afleet. “The Ashland, she came into season very heavy right at that time and really cramped up afterward, so it’s understandable that she misfired as bad as she did. Overall, she’s been pretty unlucky, although I really like how she came out of her last race and that we’re turning back to seven-eighths. We’re excited about bringing the filly back there.”

Negligee had minor ankle surgery after finishing third as the favorite in the Grade 2 Sands Point last spring at Belmont, and Terranova said he wanted to have her prep for the Raven Run by running in an overnight stakes last month at Belmont.

“But it didn’t fill, so we went instead in the Garden City,” Terranova said, referring to the Grade 1 event run over yielding turf Sept. 18. “The ground kept breaking out from under her. But I’d say she needed the race anyway, and she has trained very well since then, so we ought to be in good shape for Saturday.”

Dirt Mile on Mine That Bird’s radar

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has informed Churchill Downs officials that he hopes to run Mine That Bird in the BC Dirt Mile and that Mike Smith would have the mount.

Mine That Bird is winless in eight starts since winning the 2009 Kentucky Derby under Calvin Borel and has failed to hit the board in three starts since Lukas took over his training in May. The Dirt Mile is expected to be oversubscribed when pre-entries are taken Monday, and Lukas said he would consider the Nov. 5 Ack Ack Handicap as an alternative if Mine That Bird fails to make the field.

Mine That Bird has had five workouts at Churchill since he finished last of seven, beaten 21 lengths, in his latest race, the Sept. 4 Woodward at Saratoga. Smith has ridden him twice, finishing second in the Preakness and third in the West Virginia Derby last year.

Speak Easy Gal tops Dowager

Unlike its male counterpart, the Sycamore Stakes, which drew 14 entries before scratching down to 12 starters Thursday, the $125,000 Dowager Stakes has attracted just six fillies and mares. The 19th running of the Dowager, run around three turns at 1 1/2 miles on the turf, is carded as the eighth of nine Sunday races. Speak Easy Gal, shipping in from south Florida for trainer Marty Wolfson, could prove difficult to catch.

From the rail, this is the Dowager field: Dyani, Restless Soul, Casablanca Smile, Sweet and Flawless, Emerald Beach, and Speak Easy Gal.

After the Dowager, only one stakes remains at the meet: the Grade 2 Fayette on closing day, Oct. 30.

Peitz filly wins her debut

Retired jockey Larry Melancon, who has been working as an exercise rider for trainer Dan Peitz, was at Keeneland on Wednesday to watch Its About Midnight prevail at first asking for Peitz in the fourth race.

“She’d been training real well,” said Melancon, 55, who rode his final race at Churchill in July after more than 2,800 career wins.

Peitz, an Arkansas native who was based for years in New York before returning to the Midwest this year, will be training about a dozen active runners through the end of the Churchill meet, Nov. 27, before heading to Oaklawn Park.

Its About Midnight, a 3-year-old Distorted Humor filly, earned a 76 Beyer Speed Figure when she won her debut as a 3-1 favorite.

Isidora could surprise in allowance

Three allowances are on the Saturday undercard at Keeneland, and the best of them may be the eighth race, a $55,000, second-level race at seven furlongs on the Polytrack. The sleeper of the nine fillies and mares entered is Isidora, an Argentine-bred mare who was a closing third in her North American debut last month in a $111,000 allowance sprint at Parx Racing in Philadelphia. Leading rider Julien Leparoux has the call Saturday.

“She didn’t have the perfect trip in that Philadelphia race,” trainer Eddie Kenneally said. “The way Julien is riding, hopefully the mare will be able to run a big race.”

The other Saturday allowances are carded as the fourth and seventh.

◗ Several important workouts toward the Breeders’ Cup will take place Saturday and Sunday at Keeneland before most of the major morning action shifts to Churchill. Among the horses scheduled to work here are Blame, Proviso, Informed Decision, Hot Cha Cha, and J.B.’s Thunder. DRF clocker and correspondent Mike Welsch will be in Kentucky to file daily workout reports starting Sunday morning.

◗ Churchill and the Breeders’ Cup continue to promote the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Brunch, to be held at the Galt House in downtown Louisville on the morning of Nov. 4. Tickets are $200. More information is available by calling (502) 636-4575.