10/09/2005 11:00PM

Three look best in field of 10


LEXINGTON, Ky. - It's the calm between two storms, this Wednesday card at Keeneland.

With FallStars Weekend in the books, and one last Grade 1 race on the horizon, the nine races here Wednesday look a little lean by comparison.

No matter. Even without a stakes - rare on any day at Keeneland - there still are some solid races to be run here Wednesday.

The program highlight is a $54,000 second-level allowance for fillies and mares, a one-mile turf race that drew an overflow field and no clear-cut favorite. Royal Bean, Royal Parade, and Bridal Path look like the top contenders in a field that will be limited to 10 starters.

, trained by Dale Romans, appears capable of reverting to some of her better efforts and making her presence felt in what will be the eighth of nine Wednesday races. Before finishing last in her most recent race, the Aug. 28 Tenski at Saratoga, Royal Bean ran third in the Grade 3 Regret and second in the Audubon Oaks.

enters off a five-length triumph over "other-than" company at Monmouth Park and seems to have rounded to form. Vickie Oliver trains Royal Parade for her father, G. Watts Humphrey.

, trained by Bill Mott, is winless in more than 14 months but keeps knocking at the door at this level. Robby Albarado, who enjoyed a good opening weekend with three wins, has the mount.

The Wednesday card has two other allowances (races 6 and 7), both with $52,000 purses and entry-level restrictions. After Wednesday, things should start heating up again.

The Thursday feature, the $150,000 Bryan Station Stakes for filly-mare turf runners, will be followed Friday by what surely would have been one of the meet highlights, the $200,000 Perryville Stakes. But trainer Tim Ritchey on Monday declared Afleet Alex from the Perryville, taking the wind out of the sails of that Grade 3 race and leaving Straight Line as perhaps the favorite.

The Saturday feature is the final Grade 1 race of the meet, the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. Ten 3-year-old fillies are invited to the QEII, with Luas Line, a smashing winner of the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont in her most recent start, likely to be favored. Other invitees include Gorella, Karen's Caper, and Three Degrees.

The Sunday feature is the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, a six-furlong race that underwent a hefty purse increase to $300,000 for this year's 25th running.