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Nice win for Nasty Storm in Raven Run
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Under a typical Pat Day ride, odds-on favorite Nasty Storm fought off several challenges Wednesday at Keeneland before going on to win the $109,900 Raven Run Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Nasty Storm, trained by Dallas Stewart, was always prominent after breaking sharply from post 2 in the seven-furlong Raven Run. She dueled through the early stages with Forest Secrets, then had plenty left when Hattiesburg made a sustained outside bid in early stretch. She won by 1 1/2 lengths, paying $3.60 after finishing seven furlongs in 1:23.30 over a fast track.
Nasty Storm "was much the best," said Day. "When Hattiesburg came to us, I put her to the task and she drew away."
Over a fast track, Forest Secrets, winner of the Grade 1 Acorn in May and the 5-2 second choice, contested fractions of 22.45 seconds and 45.21 before Nasty Storm edged clear. Hattiesburg, a 7-1 shot who trailed early, loomed boldly but was no match for the winner.
Forest Secrets finished 2 1/4 lengths back in third, followed by Darling Deputy, Naughty Mambo, Southern Tour, and Curve Ahead.
Stewart said Nasty Storm, owned by a Louisville-based group that includes former University of Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum, probably will run next in the $200,000 Churchill Downs Distaff on Nov. 3. She has won 5 of 14 starts and nearly $450,000, with previous stakes victories coming in the Dogwood at Churchill and the Weekend Delight at Turfway.
The 2-5 exacta paid $18.20 and the 2-5-4 trifecta paid $37.60.
Attendance was 9,186.
Boycott bad for business
The refusal of New York OTB and the Mid-Atlantic Cooperative to offer simulcast wagering on Keeneland last weekend predictably took its toll on Keeneland's business.
All-sources wagering on the Saturday and Sunday programs totaled $11,138,116, a significant drop of 14 percent from comparable days last year, when $12,961,239 was bet.
Combined ontrack attendance (30,136) and wagering ($2,631,122) on those two days showed negligible gains, while revenue from in-state offtrack outlets was down slightly. That meant the loss of the major simulcasting markets was directly responsible for the negative trend in all-sources handle.
The Mid-Atlantic Cooperative and New York OTB had cited Keeneland's low, across-the-board takeout of 16 percent as their reason for not offering the signal, arguing that their profit margins were being squeezed. On Tuesday, the Mid-Atlantic Cooperative, which represents 10 Thoroughbred tracks, announced they had cut a new agreement with Keeneland, and the signal was back up Wednesday.
Details of the new agreement were not disclosed. New York OTB is still blacking out Keeneland.
Keeneland officials are optimistic that business will pick up with the return of major simulcasting states Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Virginia. "You would certainly anticipate that with Mid-Atlantic coming back aboard, our out-of-state numbers will increase significantly," said Keeneland spokesman Jim Williams.
Although Keeneland opened on Friday Oct. 5, there was no comparable date from 2000. This year, Keeneland added an extra day to the beginning of its fall meet to accommodate its six major Breeders' Cup preps.
Pick five respectable
Handle on the new $1 pick five wager was respectable through the first three programs. Gross handle was $100,791 for an average of $33,597.
The pick five was hit every day for an average payoff of $2,062. In the case that no one selects all five winners, the entire pool, minus takeout, will carry over to the next day. There are no consolation provisions.
The pick five replaced the pick six, which Keeneland officials believed did not attract sufficient play in recent years. Like all other wagers at this meet, the pick five is subject to a takeout of just 16 percent.
QE II has coast-to-coast appeal
It appears that all 10 fillies invited to the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup will indeed start. Likely favorites in Saturday's $500,000 race are Voodoo Dancer from New York, Affluent from California, and Snow Dance from Kentucky.
Voodoo Dancer, trained by Christophe Clement, should be particularly well-backed after having posted a smashing 4 3/4-length triumph in the Garden City at Belmont.
With riders, this is the prospective lineup of 3-year-old fillies for the QE II, which goes at 1 1/8 miles on turf:
Affluent, Eddie Delahoussaye; Casual Feat, Larry Melancon; Golden Apples, Garrett Gomez; Ing Ing, Robby Albarado; Light Dancer, Lonnie Meche; Live Your Dream, Pat Day; Reine de Romance, David Flores; Snow Dance, Craig Perret; Sweetest Thing, James McAleney; and Voodoo Dancer, Corey Nakatani.
The QE II, the final Grade 1 of the year in Kentucky, will be the focus of a one-hour live broadcast that begins at 4 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. While the QE II is a possible prep for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the broadcast also will preview several other Breeders' Cup events, including the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies.
Big crowd guaranteed
Cries of "Geaux Tigers!" surely will be heard Saturday when football fans from Louisiana State University flock to Keeneland for the only Bluegrass Sports Doubleheader this fall.
LSU plays the University of Kentucky at 7 p.m. Eastern at nearby Commonwealth Stadium, capping what historically is the best-attended day of the fall meet.
"Whenever we have LSU or Georgia in town, their fans love to make it an all-day affair," said Williams. "We should have more than 20,000 here Saturday if the weather is okay."
By contrast, even though Keeneland ran a slew of graded stakes during the first three days of the meet last weekend, the largest attendance was 18,373 on Saturday.
* Starting with Kris Prather, and continuing with Orlando Mojica, Axel DaSilva, and Chris Rosier, this has been an exceptional year for apprentice riders in Kentucky. Agent Steve Elzey believes he might have the next breakthrough bugboy in Benjamin Marcello, a recent arrival from Prairie Meadows. Marcello, a 20-year-old native of Mexico, has won seven races. He was scheduled to make his Keeneland debut in the first race Thursday.
* Jockey Calvin Borel will be away Saturday to ride Bold World in the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder.
* Turfway racing secretary Rick Leigh is accepting stall applications for the holiday-winter meet that begins Nov. 25. The deadline is Oct. 27.