04/19/2009 11:00PM

'Rita Lady' tops deep allowance


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Keeneland plays out the string this week, although pretty much any other racetrack would gladly accept its leftovers. Three straight allowance races worth a combined $179,000 anchor a nine-race card Wednesday, the first of the final three-day stretch of the spring meet.

The nominal feature is the eighth race, a $58,000 second-level turf route that shapes up as the deepest and most attractive wagering event of the day. An overflow field of fillies and mares has no clear-cut favorite, although horses from reputable stables such as Belle Allure (Christophe Clement), Vancy Pants (Kiaran McLaughlin), Senior Rita Lady (Rick Violette), and Cherokee Queen (Graham Motion) should take their share of action.

Senior Rita Lady, with Kent Desormeaux named to ride, got plenty of stakes seasoning last fall in New York, where her top effort was a runner-up finish behind the multiple graded winner Backseat Rhythm in the Oct. 13 Pebbles Stakes at Belmont. The 4-year-old Fusaichi Pegasus filly has trained forwardly at the Palm Meadows training center since finishing fourth in her lone start of the year in late January at Gulfstream Park.

The preceding race, the seventh, is the richest of the day, with a $67,000 purse. Knights Cross, with Edgar Prado to ride, may have a tactical edge as the dominant speed in a six-horse field, while Carnacks Choice, with Garrett Gomez up, has shown a distinct preference for the Polytrack surface. Carnacks Choice has 2 wins from 3 career starts on the Keeneland Poly, including a victory in the Lafayette Stakes at 3 and a close-up third in the Phoenix Stakes last fall.

Amazing Results, a Team Block 4-year-old making his seasonal debut, is an interesting prospect. The colt would seem to need more ground than six furlongs, but he clearly has the class to make his presence known late.

The sixth race, a $54,000 entry-level turf route that drew a well-matched field of 10 3-year-old fillies, could be a good spot to determine how good Dwelling Place might be for Lael Stables and trainer Barclay Tagg. Six of the starters are entered off wins.

The 15-day spring meet at Keeneland winds down with twin turf marathons on the final two cards: the Grade 3, $150,000 Bewitch on Thursday and the Grade 2, $200,000 Elkhorn on Friday, closing day. Churchill Downs opens Saturday with the Derby Trial.