10/21/2008 12:00AM

Which was the key stakes race?


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Horseplayers are very familiar with the term "key race." But when the feature race is run Thursday at Keeneland, the concept will be extended to a key day.

Six of the eight fillies and mares set to clash Thursday last raced on Sept. 27 in stakes at three different tracks. Drop a Line, Quiet Queen, and Ballymore Lady ran in the Indian Maid at Hawthorne; New Edition and Street Sounds ran in the HBPA at Presque Isle Downs; and Dance to My Tune ran in the Avowal at Woodbine.

It seems highly likely that the winner will emerge from that sizable group, which includes the probable favorites for the eighth of nine races, a one-mile fourth-level allowance on turf with a $60,000 purse.

Ballymore Lady, second as a lukewarm favorite in the Indian Maid, was assigned the outside post and figures to draw strong wagering action with Corey Lanerie aboard. Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Ballymore Lady has been very consistent in her 14-race career, winning four times while finishing in the money nine times for earnings of nearly $175,000.

Drop a Line, with Jeremy Rose in to ride for Graham Motion, finished just a half-length behind Ballymore in the 1 1/16-mile Indian Maid after making all the pace. With only token speed drawn against her Thursday, she looks like a serious threat to go wire to wire.

Of the others, Street Sounds has not been in particularly good form lately, having finished fifth in the HBPA. But she is the leading earner in the group with a bankroll of nearly $500,000, and she became a Grade 2 winner by capturing the Beaumont over the Keeneland Polytrack at the 2007 spring meet.

Two other allowances directly precede the feature on the card. In the sixth, a $54,000 second-level turf marathon, Approvedbythemint will go for his second win of the meet after posting a mild upset on Oct. 9.

The seventh race, a $52,000 entry-level allowance for fillies and mares at seven furlongs on the Polytrack, drew a full field of 12, with Susies Gal, Sheltered, and Cervesa Especial deserving top billing.