10/08/2006 11:00PM

Speed not doing well on Polytrack


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Polytrack was supposed to put an end to the track biases that long existed at Keeneland, but the small sampling of 22 Polytrack races that opened the fall meet last weekend suggests that early speed might not be very effective over the new surface.

Only one front-running winner could be found among the 22 races run Friday through Sunday, and that winner - Cat and a Half in the fourth race Sunday - was a dominant class-dropper who returned $3.60 after winning off by 5 1/2 lengths.

Otherwise, winners mostly came from well off the pace in Polytrack races. Just two winners came from as close up as second place, and only one rallied from third. Four winners came from fourth, one from fifth, while the remainder - 13 of the 22 winners - came from sixth or farther back.

Six favorites were winners in the 22 races for a slightly below average win percentage of .273.

Saturday's heroes are BC-bound

Logically, horses good enough to win the various "FallStars Weekend" stakes that open the Keeneland fall meet are good enough to compete in the Breeders' Cup - and that logic appears prevalent again this year.

Connections for the winners, and even for some of the horses that ran respectably in defeat, are making plans to be at Churchill Downs for the Nov. 4 championships. Among those highly likely for the Breeders' Cup, assuming the horses stay on course during the next few weeks of training, are: Bel Air Beauty, winner of the Alcibiades and a contender for the BC Juvenile Fillies; Great Hunter, winner of the Breeders' Futurity (BC Juvenile); Kelly's Landing, winner of the Phoenix (BC Sprint); and Asi Siempre, winner of the Spinster (BC Distaff).

Also, Circular Quay, who suffered his first career defeat when second in the Breeders' Futurity, also will move on to the BC Juvenile, according to his trainer, Todd Pletcher, while the third-place finisher, Street Sense, also will be considered, said trainer Carl Nafzger.

Likewise, the respective two-three finishers in the Alcibiades, Untouched Talent and Her Majesty, also are likely for the BC Juvenile Fillies, according to their connections.

There has been no definite word from the Coolmore camp and trainer Aidan O'Brien regarding the Breeders' Cup for Aussie Rules, the authoritative winner of the Shadwell Turf Mile on Saturday, although the 3-year-old colt clearly is an excellent prospect for the BC Mile.

The Coolmore website described the colt as preferring the type of firm turf over which he won on Saturday.

Kelly's Landing makes timely rebound

Trainer Eddie Kenneally was ecstatic with the way Kelly's Landing reversed his mediocre recent form in winning the Phoenix, especially with the BC Sprint being held at Churchill, where Kelly's Landing is the track-record holder (1:07.59) for six furlongs.

"He's trained at Churchill most of his life, and he's got the track record," said Kenneally. "So, of course, we're going to definitely consider the Breeders' Cup. He bounced out of the race great, and I'm extremely happy with him."

Bejarano, Leparoux look poised for a rerun

The meet is only three days old, and already Rafael Bejarano and Julien Leparoux are at it again. The young friends and rivals finished tied for the spring-meet riding title with 17 wins each, and after opening weekend of this meet, Bejarano held a 7-6 lead over Leparoux atop the jockey standings.

Garrett Gomez also won six races on opening weekend but is scheduled to ride here only a few more days, including Friday and Saturday.

Record crowd turns up Saturday

The Saturday attendance of 28,880 was a Keeneland record for a fall program, narrowly surpassing the old mark of 28,788, set Oct. 14, 1989. The 1989 mark came on a Saturday card that included the Spinster, which has since been moved to Sundays.

Most of the attendance records in Keeneland history were set at its spring meets, including the record 33,621 set on the afternoon of 2005 Blue Grass Stakes.

• Among the many improvements made at Keeneland, one surely escaped the notice of most people last weekend: an increase in the capabilities of the track's medical staff to handle emergencies. Keeneland medical director Dr. Barry Schumer said he and his staff have upgraded monitoring and resuscitation technologies to "the highest level available for a unit of this kind" and made other improvements in the track's first-aid operation.