10/11/2009 11:00PM

Weekend boosts a crowd to Cup

Email
Patrick Lang/Lang Photography
Informed Decision (8) defeats Carlsbad in the Thoroughbred Club of America, securing a starting spot in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The nine graded stakes run on FallStars Weekend at Keeneland appear to have produced at least 16 starters for the Breeders' Cup, with another handful possible to run in the Nov. 6-7 races at Santa Anita.

Two of the more notable Breeders' Cup prospects are Informed Decision and Forever Together, the late-running grays from the stable of Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. Both are headed for a brief freshening at Sheppard's Pennsylvania farm before returning to Keeneland to make final preparations for their respective Breeders' Cup races.

Informed Decision earned a spot in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint by winning the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes here Saturday, while Forever Together put in a highly creditable effort running third in the First Lady the same day and will be back to defend her championship in the BC Filly and Mare Turf.

"They both seem to really thrive off having a little spell at my farm," said Sheppard. "I'm going to take them back there for a couple of weeks and then bring them back before the end of the meet and put the finishing touches on them before we fly to California."

The Keeneland meet runs through Oct. 31.

Besides Informed Decision, the other eight weekend stakes winners all appear headed to California. Here is a quick follow-up on all the stakes over the three-day opening weekend:

* : The one-two finishers Fatal Bullet and Capt. Candyman Can both are going to the BC Sprint.

* : Four of the top five finishers will be entered in the BC Juvenile Fillies: Negligee (first), She Be Wild (second), Amen Hallelujah (third), and Beautician (fifth).

* : Silver Timber, the winner, is likely for the BC Turf Sprint and will remain at Keeneland to train for Chad Brown. The runner-up, Mr. Nightlinger, is a BC possible.

* : Informed Decision most likely will be the only one to advance, as the connections of runner-up Carlsbad said beforehand that they do not intend to run in the BC.

* : Diamondrella, the winner, will be considered for three races, said Michael Iavarone, co-president of IEAH Stables, the mare's owners - the Filly-Mare Turf, the Mile, or the Turf Sprint. Tizaqueena, second on Saturday, could run in the Las Palmas on BC weekend at Santa Anita, said trainer Mike Stidham. Forever Together, third as the favorite, is definite for the Filly-Mare Turf.

* : The top two, Noble's Promise and Aikenite, both will go in the BC Juvenile.

* : Court Vision, the narrow winner over Karelian, goes in the Mile. Karelian will be entered "but probably will get excluded," said trainer Rusty Arnold. Mr. Sidney (third) and Justenuffhumor (sixth) remain under consideration for the Mile.

* : Interactif, the impressive winner, surely will be one of the favorites for the BC Juvenile Turf.

* : The top two, Mushka and Proviso, both will go to the Ladies' Classic.

Howard, Farish still in business

Neil Howard, who has trained such major stars as Mineshaft and Summer Squall in a 30-year training career, has begun taking on new owners, although his longtime main client, Will Farish, said there is nothing to be read into it.

"There is no parting of the ways, nothing of the kind," said Farish, the principal owner of Mineshaft, the 2003 Horse of the Year. "Neil has always had some outside clients, just as we've had a horse here and there with a few other trainers. This is a way for Neil to expand his opportunities."

Howard, who has won nearly 1,100 races, saddled three horses for Farish on opening weekend at Keeneland and has two more entered for him Wednesday.

Two accomplished runners in whom Farish has ownership interest, Grasshopper and Mambo In Seattle, recently were transferred from Howard to Kiaran McLaughlin in New York. Farish noted that neither has been as effective as racehorses since grueling efforts in the Travers Stakes in 2007 and 2008, respectively. "I was going to sell them as sire prospects and decided to just let Kiaran work with them and see how he does with them before we did that," said Farish.

Some of the new names for whom Howard, 60, will be training include Courtlandt Farm, Bluegrass Hall LLC, Brad Kelley, and John and Paul Manganaro. After Keeneland, Howard will campaign primarily at Churchill Downs, then Fair Grounds.

Jessamine starts stakes lineup

The first of five stakes this week at Keeneland comes Thursday with the $150,000 Jessamine at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Smart Seattle, second as the favorite in the Sept. 3 P.G. Johnson in just her second start, looks like the horse to beat among a field of 12 2-year-old fillies.

The Jessamine will be followed by the $100,000 Franklin County on Friday, the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup and $150,000 Perryville on Saturday, and the $125,000 Bryan Station on Sunday.

The QE II, the sixth and last Grade 1 race of the meet, is expected to get 11 3-year-old turf fillies, with the top contenders being Well Monied, Gozzip Girl, Miss World, and Shared Account.

Guaranteed pools exceeded

Keeneland had no problem attracting a greater handle than what the track guaranteed for a couple of pick four pools on opening weekend.

The late pick four on Friday, guaranteed at $200,000, drew $274,273. The all-stakes pick four on Saturday, guaranteed at $250,000, drew $345,241.

The $200,000 guarantee will be in effect on the late pick four every Friday at the meet.

Torres gets local comeback win

Jockey Francisco Torres scored his first victory since being reinstated by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission when first-time starter Quiet Class led gate to wire in capturing the seventh race Sunday at 40-1.

Torres, 40, had not ridden in Kentucky for nine years after being ruled off because of chronic substance-abuse issues. He went 1 for 4 on opening weekend.

* The pick six carryover has edged up to $44,745 for Wednesday after no perfect tickets were sold on any of the first three days. There is no carryover in the super high five.