04/07/2009 11:00PM

War Kill wins duel in Beaumont upset


LEXINGTON, Ky. - If any horse other than the odds-on Evita Argentina was going to win the Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes on Wednesday at Keeneland, it figured to be Selva in front-running style.

Right thought, wrong particulars. War Kill, with red-hot Julien Leparoux aboard, outfought Selva in a nearly race-long duel, while Evita Argentina labored home fourth in a field of six 3-year-old fillies.

War Kill returned $35.40 after finishing the Beard Course distance of seven furlongs and 184 feet in 1:25.97 over Polytrack. The $150,000 Beaumont was her stakes debut and was worth $93,000 to breeder-owner Dixiana Stables.

Leparoux, who rode three other winners on the card, said he "tried to get her to relax, and then she had a lot of fight down the straight."

Ken McPeek is the trainer of War Kill, a daughter of War Chant.

"She's not a big package, but she has a lot of heart," said McPeek, adding he would consider turf racing, and not the Kentucky Oaks, in the near future for the filly.

Before an ontrack crowd of 7,108, War Kill went head-and-head outside of Selva, the 9-5 second choice, down the backstretch and into the turn. Down the stretch, those two clung alongside each other while maintaining separation on Consequence, the eventual third-place finisher, and Evita Argentina, who made only a mild run from last as the 7-10 favorite under Garrett Gomez. On the wire, War Kill had a half-length on Selva in registering her third victory from five career starts.

Leparoux won five races when active on just two of three programs when the 15-day spring meet opened last weekend.

Eight set for marathon stakes

The creation of the Breeders' Cup Marathon has spawned the occasional stakes at 1 1/2 miles or longer at tracks around the country. That's the case here Friday when the $100,000 Fort Harrod serves as the secondary feature to the Maker's Mark Mile.

None of the eight older horses entered in the 1 5/8-mile Polytrack race has won a stakes, unless you count Kurbat, a Chilean import who captured a Grade 1 race in his home country before being imported to the United States and assimilated into the Graham Motion stable.

Rocket Legs, exiting tough California races, might be the one to beat with Gomez aboard. Other logical contenders include Lord Kipling, Radical Sabbatical, and Electricity.

This will be the second running of the Fort Harrod, which was won last year by Jade's Revenge. The BC Marathon was run for the first time last October at Santa Anita.

Blue Grass undercard looks strong

Besides the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes, three other graded stakes will be run on a 10-race Saturday card.

The best of the three is the Grade 2, $200,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes (race 8), which features the seasonal debut of Forever Together, the 2008 filly-mare turf champion and winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Eight other fillies and mares will line up against her in what shapes up as a terrific renewal of the 1 1/16-mile turf race, with Backseat Rhythm, Rutherienne, and Visit the most formidable opposition.

In the Grade 2, $250,000 Commonwealth Stakes (race 7), defending champion Rebellion drew the outside post in a field of eight older horses. Others in the seven-furlong Commonwealth include Eternal Star, Keep Laughing, My Pal Charlie, and Ravalo.

And in the Grade 3, $100,000 Shakertown Stakes (race 6), Mr. Nightlinger and Heros Reward both will make their first appearances since the BC Turf Sprint when heading an overflow field. Fourteen were entered, but only 12 can start in the 5 1/2-furlong turf race.

Home-track edge for Terrain

If any horse in the Blue Grass might have a home-course advantage at Keeneland, it's Terrain. Not only did the gelding finish a good second behind Square Eddie in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity last fall in his lone start over the Keeneland Polytrack, but he trained here from April to October during his 2-year-old season.

In addition, Leparoux, a three-time leading rider at Keeneland, has the mount.

"They should fit each other perfectly," trainer Al Stall Jr. said. "It's a good track for the horse, and obviously Julien does really well here."

Friesan Fire gets back to work

Friesan Fire has started on his final push toward the May 2 Kentucky Derby. Working for the first time since winning the March 14 Louisiana Derby by 7 1/4 lengths, Friesan Fire breezed five furlongs Wednesday morning over the Keeneland Polytrack in 1:00.80. Gabriel Saez was up.

Keeneland clockers were raving about the breeze, which they said came with a final quarter-mile of about 22.80 seconds.

"He didn't take a deep breath and didn't drink any water afterward," said Cindy Jones, wife of and assistant to trainer Larry Jones, who is in Arkansas through the weekend.

It had been 25 days since the Louisiana Derby, with no workouts in the interim. "He needed to be let down a little bit since that last race," Cindy Jones said. "Now we're getting him back going again."

Guaranteed pick fours on offer

Keeneland is offering several wagering specials in conjunction with its biggest weekend of the spring meet.

On Friday, the late pick four (races 7-10) will carry a guaranteed pool of $200,000. Also, the first half of a two-day wager, the Maker's Mark Mile/Blue Grass double, will be offered with a $2 minimum.

On Saturday, another $200,000 guarantee will be pegged to an all-stakes pick four (races 6-9). The regular early (races 2-5) and late (races 7-10) pick fours still will be available.

All Keeneland pick fours can be played in 50-cent increments.

* Ted Bassett and biographer Bill Mooney will be available for signings of the new book, "Keeneland's Ted Bassett: My Life," from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday outside the gift shop.

* There will be no racing here Sunday because of the Easter holiday.