Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky will begin its annual fall meeting on Friday. This season basically serves as a 17-day prep season for the Breeders' Cup Championships which, of course, will be held at nearby Churchill Downs in Louisville on November 4 and 5 with a record-high fifteen championship races being held over the two days.
Keeneland has two Graded stakes race scheduled for the Opening Day program on Friday, the Grade 3 Phoenix and the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades. The Phoenix will more or less be a prep for the Sprint and the Dirt Mile, run at six furlongs. It features 8-5 favorite, Flashpoint, who won the Grade 3 Jersey Shore at Monmouth two starts back and ran a poor fifth in the seven furlong King's Bishop last time out at Saratoga. Also on hand are Aikenite at 5-2, who ran third in the Grade 1 Forego at The Spa, closing just a bit late to get to Jackson Bend, and Hamazing Destiny. Hamazing Destiny finished 4th in that Forego at Saratoga.
As far as the Darley Alcibiades, it has always been the traditional final tune-up for those horses destined for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Fifteen horses are entered in the Alcibiades and it is such an evenly matched bunch that the morning-line choice is at 5-1. She ran third in the Grade 1 Spinaway after breaking her maiden on August 7 at Saratoga. Behind her are three 6-1 shots on the morning-line. Canadian import Tu Endie Wei, a daughter of 2003 Breeders' Cup Turf winner, Johar, is 2 for 2 in her career thus far at Woodbine. The Todd Pletcher-trained Sweet Cat is 1 for 2 after a maiden-breaking win at Saratoga on September 1. New Wave missed the top three in her only prior Graded attempt, but has a win and a second also on the resume' entering Friday.
Things are really starting to heat up now as the Breeders' Cup Saturday is exactly one month from today. Also speaking of today, this is the 500th post in the history of They Are Off and I would like to thank all of those who read and follow this blog on a regular or a limited basis. I appreciate your support. Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!