10/10/2004 11:00PM

Peace Pledge in right spot


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Feast or famine? Not exactly. Just because Keeneland ran seven graded stakes on opening weekend but didn't card a single stakes for Wednesday doesn't mean racing fans will be starving anytime soon.

In fact, Keeneland will card a stakes every day for the rest of this week, peaking with the fourth and last Grade 1 race of the fall meet, the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Saturday. Meanwhile, horseplayers will have to be satisfied with a nine-race Wednesday program that includes three allowances races (6, 7, 8) and a $100,000 claiming race (5). Stakes or no, it's a card that most tracks would love to stage.

The sixth race, a $54,000, second-level turf allowance, might be a good spot for , an Our Emblem filly trained by Phil Oliver. Peace Pledge won an entry-level turf allowance at Monmouth Park in July and has been competitive in both tries at this level in the interim.

The seventh, a $52,000, first-level dirt route, probably will have a Todd Pletcher-trained filly named Essence as a solid favorite, especially since she drew the rail post in the 1 1/8-mile race. has shown speed and consistency in the most recent of her six career starts, and with inside speed having fared well on opening weekend, she figures to be the one to beat in a field of nine.

The eighth, a $58,000, classified turf allowance, could go to another rail horse, , who was sixth in the Grade 3 Glen Falls at Saratoga in her last start. Red-hot jockey Rafael Bejarano has the call on Nannycam, one of eight fillies and mares entered.

The fifth race, the one that carries the rare - at least for Kentucky - claiming price of $100,000, looks like Bernie Flint's to lose. The veteran trainer will start the coupled entry of Ask the Lord and Sterling Gold.

* Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey was supposed to return to action Wednesday at Keeneland, but a filly he was scheduled to ride for trainer Bobby Frankel did not make her race, so that plan was scrapped. Bailey now will make his comeback Thursday at Belmont Park. Bailey has been out of action since fracturing his wrist Sept. 1 in an accident at his south Florida home.

* Pat Day, a 22-time riding champion at Keeneland, has six mounts here Wednesday, his 51st birthday. Day has the most wins of all active jockeys in North America.