10/09/2008 12:00AM

New Yorkers showing up for QE II


LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup is a Kentucky race named for an English monarch, but the 25th running Saturday at Keeneland will have a definite New York flavor to it.

Six of the 11 3-year-old fillies entered in the $500,000 QE II made their last start in New York, a circuit that has produced quite a few QE II champions, including the 2007 winner, Bit of Whimsy. Barclay Tagg, the trainer of Bit of Whimsy, will be back with another contender Saturday in My Princess Jess, who drew the outside post in the 1 1/8-mile turf fixture.

My Princess Jess finished a close fourth in her last race, the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders’ Cup on Sept. 6, a Belmont Park race in which Bit of Whimsy finished second last year.

Other New York invaders in the QE II field are Ariege, third in the Garden City for Bobby Frankel; Sefroua, who has been transferred into the care of trainer Graham Motion after running third in the Noble Damsel for French connections; Alwajeeha, sixth in the Garden City for Kiaran McLaughlin; Rosa Grace, who has gone to Christophe Clement after closing to be second in the Lake Placid at Saratoga for English connections; and Backseat Rhythm, the Garden City winner who could come a slight favorite for trainer Pat Reynolds in what shapes up as a very deep lineup.

From the rail, this is the QE II field: Ariege, Sefroua, Storm Mesa, Alwajeeha, Closeout, Magical Fantasy, Rosa Grace, Backseat Rhythm, Lickety Lemon, My Baby Baby, and My Princess Jess.

A major pace factor went missing from the QE II lineup when another New York-based trainer, Tom Albertrani, chose not to enter Raw Silk, the front-runner in her last five starts, all of them turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

The QE II, the last of six Grade 1 races at the Keeneland fall meet, is carded as the ninth of 10 Saturday races.

I’m So Lucky draws rail in Perryville

I’m So Lucky, third in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop Stakes last out, drew post 1 as the probable lukewarm favorite in the Saturday co-feature, the Grade 3 Perryville Stakes for 3-year-olds. Robby Albarado has the call from John T. Ward Jr. on I’m So Lucky.

A full field of 12 was entered in the $200,000 Perryville (race 7), which is run at the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet over the Polytrack. Besides I’m So Lucky, other possible contenders in a terrific 10th running of the Perryville include Ready’s Image, Fidelio, Eaton’s Gift, Meal Penalty, Liberty Bull, and Amazing Results.

Wilkes and Borel combine for three wins

Ian Wilkes and Calvin Borel were the unquestioned stars Wednesday at Keeneland. The trainer-jockey team combined to win three races, including two of the three allowances on a nine-race card.

Wilkes and Borel won the fourth race, a conditioned-claiming sprint, with Delilah’s Seven ($7) before taking the sixth, a $52,000 turf allowance, with Seemingly ($11.80), who went last-to-first in a flash to win going away.

In the seventh, a $53,595 Polytrack allowance, Tiz to Dream ($11.20) made a searing outside run to give Wilkes and Borel a nose victory over Artemis Priss, a 25-1 shot.

In the remaining Wednesday allowance, the $56,000 eighth, No Fault ($20.80) edged clear to win at seven furlongs on the Polytrack with Robby Albarado aboard for trainer Paul McGee.

Wildcat 12:30 kickoff to hurt attendance

Television scheduling for home football games at the University of Kentucky can have a major impact on Keeneland attendance. If a Saturday game is scheduled at night, then several thousand football fans – at the very least – make it a doubleheader by coming first to Keeneland in the afternoon.

That’s what will happen Oct. 18, when Kentucky hosts Arkansas. However, a night game scheduled for this Saturday versus South Carolina recently was switched to a 12:30 p.m. kickoff, meaning Keeneland figures to lose out on a lot of business.

* The Sunday feature at Keeneland, the Grade 3, $150,000 Bryan Station Stakes, is expected to get a full field of 3-year-olds, or at least close to it. Among the likely starters is Cowboy Cal, who was a close second in the Blue Grass Stakes before finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby in his most recent start back in May. Entries for the one-mile turf race were to be drawn Thursday.