10/18/2008 12:00AM

Raven Run looks wide open


LEXINGTON, Ky. - One product of the brainstorming that occurs at Keeneland is the Raven Run Stakes, which nine years ago endeavored to fill a void in the fall stakes schedule.

If early returns are a true indicator, the experiment was worthwhile. Designed for 3-year-old fillies who aren't quite Breeders' Cup material and who haven't quite confirmed their preference for one turn or two, the Grade 2 Raven Run seems here to stay after carving out a useful niche.

One key component to the success of a race is field size, and darned if 13 fillies haven't turned out for the $300,000 Raven Run, which will be run at seven furlongs as the ninth of 10 Saturday races at Keeneland. A volatile mix of sprinters and routers, not to mention the ever-vexing Polytrack variable, gives the race all sorts of interesting possibilities.

Rated Fiesty and Secret Gypsy appear the fastest of the bunch, at least for the first four or five furlongs. After that, who knows?

"Hopefully, we won't get in a dogfight," said Ronny Werner, trainer of Secret Gypsy. "I really believe my filly can relax off it."

"It looks like a really deep group," said Mike Stidham, who will send out one of the likely pace chasers, Spring Awakening. "Our filly bled in her last start in Chicago, but we think we've got that corrected, and she's trained really well here at Keeneland. She can be one of the fillies who can sit off it, then go on if the speed gets late."

Spring Awakening, a two-time stakes winner in Southern California when trained by Mike Mitchell, is one of a handful of fillies who figure to vie for position from just behind the expected front-runners. Ride Em Cowgirl, Dreaming of Liz, and Extra Sexy Psychic also fit that bill.

And then there are the mid-range closers, including 3-1 morning-line favorite Informed Decision, who earned a career-high 101 Beyer Speed Figure in winning an allowance here in the spring. Informed Decision, owned by Augustin Stable and trained by Jonathan Sheppard, used her kick to capture a minor stakes Sept. 20 at Belmont Park and clearly has the running style to be a major factor here in case of a pace meltdown.

Other considerations in the Raven Run include Golden Doc A and Set Play, both Grade 1 winners when in sharper form.