10/07/2002 11:00PM

Stakesless card still lucrative

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Keeneland offers race cards without stakes about as often as George Steinbrenner blames himself when his New York Yankees fail in the post-season.

With four allowance races ranging from $52,000 to $57,000, and a pair of maiden races worth a cool $51,000 each, the Thursday card - one of just five programs at the 17-day fall meet without a stakes - is a high-dollar lesson in everyday fare at Keeneland.

The nominal feature, the eighth race, is a $57,000 allowance for older fillies and mares. Marq of Beauty, trained by Todd Pletcher, probably will take more than her share of action in the one-mile turf race, especially considering that perennial leading jockey Pat Day has been named to ride her.

Rosa's Delaware, a recent winner at Kentucky Downs for Bernie Flint, is another top contender, while Peace River Lady would be dangerous if she draws in off the also-eligible list. Only 10 can start.

One race earlier, a solid field of seven will clash at seven furlongs in a $56,000 allowance. Bag of Mischief may be the horse to beat, although a big effort from any of a handful of others, including Finder, Cojet, and Still Be Smokin', may be enough to result in a minor upset.

The two other allowances are carded as the fifth and sixth races. Both drew full fields.

The card also includes a $50,000 claiming sprint for 2-year-olds, and split runnings of a 1 1/16-mile maiden race for 2-year-olds. First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.

At least nine for QE II

Stakes coordinator Dan Bork said at least nine 3-year-old fillies have accepted invitations to the third and final Grade 1 race of the meet, the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

The prospective field for Saturday's QE II at 1 1/8 miles, is Alozaina, Distant Valley, Little Treasure, Lush Soldier, Megahertz, Riskaverse, Show Lady, Wonder Again, and Zenda.

The other stakes to be run this week are the $75,000 Perryville on Friday and the $100,000 Dowager on Sunday.

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