10/12/2004 11:00PM

Post 10 could hurt 'Michelle'


LEXINGTON, Ky. - They've got some big horseshoes to fill Friday at Keeneland.

In its five-year history, the Raven Run Stakes already has been won by several top-class fillies, most notably the recently retired Sightseek, who raced to victory two years ago - no doubt helping the race to attain its Grade 2 ranking. On Friday, 10 3-year-old fillies will strive to maintain that lofty level when the $200,000 Raven Run highlights a 10-race card.

, the Bob Baffert-trained filly who won the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes two starts ago, is among the deserving favorites in the seven-furlong Raven Run, especially with the ever-popular Pat Day taking the mount. But Friendly Michelle has the difficult task of starting from the far outside post, and with so many of her rivals in possession of superior early speed, she may have to run the best race of her career to overcome that disadvantage.

Considering that, a filly such as (post 3) seems to rate a better chance. Trained by Patrick Biancone, Salty Romance won the $250,000 Delta Princess in December, then was put on a path toward the Kentucky Oaks before faltering in two prep races at Santa Anita. After regrouping, the speedy Salt Lake filly returned in impressive fashion five weeks ago, capturing a second-level allowance at Belmont Park in a race that figures to have her primed for this rise in class.

Another inside-drawn contender entered off a sharp win in New York is (post 2), a Danzig filly who long has been held in high regard by her trainer, John T. Ward Jr. Likewise, Silver Crown (post 1) has the speed and starting position to be a serious threat, having consistently shown early foot for trainer Bobby Springer when competing against solid company this summer at Arlington Park.

The rest of the Raven Run field is Format, Josh's Madelyn, Miss Moses, Storm's Darling, Dance Tune, and Feline Story.

The Raven Run, named for a 374-acre sanctuary outside Lexington, is the ninth race on a card that also includes three allowances (races 5, 7, and 8). First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.

Besides Sightseek, other recent winners of the Raven Run include Darling My Darling (2000), Nasty Storm (2001), and Yell (2003).