10/09/2007 11:00PM

Turf stakes loaded with speed

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - David Fawkes took a look at the incredible amount of speed in the Franklin County Stakes and arrived at a happy conclusion.

"Isn't that great!" he exclaimed. "Let 'em rip."

As the trainer of Flying Circle, a come-from-behinder who most recently won the $250,000 Distaff Turf Sprint Championship at Calder, Fawkes was ecstatic to see that so many exceptionally fast fillies and mares were entered in the $100,000 Franklin County, a 5 1/2-furlong turf race that anchors a 10-race Friday program at Keeneland.

Among the early burners in a full field are Stylish Wildcat, Read the Label, and Charlie Papa, not to mention several more who usually apply sustained pace pressure, such as Salt Syn, Indian Breeze, and Taletobetold.

"With all that speed, you'd think it might set up for us, although of course it doesn't always work out that way," said Fawkes, who left the Miami area Wednesday afternoon for Keeneland, where he was to rejoin Flying Circle, who arrived by van here Monday. "We're just hoping for a little racing luck."

Flying Circle, bred and owned by Walter New, is a 5-year-old mare with a closing kick that carried her to victory in the Aug. 11 Distaff Sprint under Manny Aguilar, giving her the richest payday of her 21-race career. Friday, she will break from post 3 in a race that drew 14 entries but, as usual, will be limited to 12 starters.

Several of the Franklin County starters enter in sensational form. Put Away the Halo, trained by Lynn Whiting, has won her last four races, culminating with a small stakes last out at Kentucky Downs. Salt Syn has won 4 of her last 5 races, and Adore You has won 3 of her last 4. Charlie Papa has won her last seven races during a streak that started in October 2004. She has kept it alive, despite several layoffs, through her most recent start, which came back on May 13. The 6-year-old mare is trained by Connie Kendall.

Perhaps the most dangerous-looking speed horse is Stylish Wildcat, a California shipper trained by John Sadler. The 4-year-old Forest Wildcat filly has specialized in turf sprints from the outset of her career and has been occasionally brilliant.

The rest of the field is Candy Jo, No Llores Catita, Chinchilla, and Indian Breeze. Cat on a Cloud and True Tails form a two-horse also-eligible list.