01/24/2008 12:00AM

Autobahn Girl solid on either surface


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Whether the city is Los Angeles or New Orleans, the weather forecast is the same Saturday: There is a strong possibility of rain.

In Los Angeles, the outlook has some people wondering if Santa Anita's Cushion Track surface will experience the same drainage problems that forced it to cancel racing from Jan. 5-7, the last time the Los Angeles area had significant rainfall.

And in New Orleans, the rainy outlook raises the possibility that the featured race at Fair Grounds, the Marie G. Krantz Memorial, could be contested over a wet turf course, or even be moved to the main track, depending on the amount of precipitation.

It is impossible to know precisely what conditions to expect. But one thing I believe, regardless of whether the Marie G. Krantz is run over wet turf or the main track, is that Autobahn Girl looms a quality play.

A 4-year-old by A.P. Indy out of the Canadian champion Saoirse, Autobahn Girl is a versatile filly who figures to have a say in the outcome, no matter what conditions she faces. Two starts ago she won the Pago Hop over the Fair Grounds turf course, and earlier in the year she won the Suncoast Stakes over the main track at Tampa Bay Downs.

A mild threat on turf, she becomes the most likely winner if the Marie G. Krantz is run on dirt. The reason? Her opponents' accomplishments on dirt are thin.

In just a few notable examples, Emma Candy has earned a total of $880 in two dirt starts, and Praia Da Pipa and Swingit have never even raced on the surface. As for the rest, the vast majority have earned better figures and earned more on turf than dirt.

That is not the case with Autobahn Girl. All but $36,600 of her $188,925 bankroll has come on dirt - suggesting she should adapt well if the race is taken off the turf and moved to the Fair Grounds main track.

What if it is not? Under those conditions, in which case the course would likely be good or yielding, Autobahn Girl is a lower-probability winner, but still a decent wager as a price play. Although she failed to fire in her most recent start, finishing ninth in the Furl Sail, she had a wide trip that may have compromised her performance.

Since that Dec. 29 race, she has come back to train well for trainer Malcolm Pierce, and the addition of five-time Sovereign Award-winning rider Patrick Husbands should aid her chances.

She surprised in a big way in winning the Pago Hop in November, scoring at 29-1, and may outrun her odds again in Saturday's Marie G. Krantz.

Maxxam Gold Cup

The Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston provides another opportunity: To play a quality colt who figures to enjoy a pace advantage.

Honest Man, perfect in three starts since being stretched out to two turns, is untested in stakes but figures to lead the 1 1/8-mile Maxxam Gold Cup from start to finish. A front-runner, he is matched up against just five opponents, and only two of them, Goosey Moose and Gold Wonder, have any lick of early speed.

They are hardly speed-burners. Goosey Moose tends to prefer stalking or pressing the pace, and was in front in the Assault Stakes in July only when he set an opening quarter in a 1 1/16-mile race in 25 seconds. And Gold Wonder has fared best in routes when rated from 1 1/2 lengths to four lengths off the pace.

Putting aside the pace advantage Honest Man figures to enjoy - he can rate off the speed, if necessary - he simply acts like the best horse. In winning a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Fair Grounds recently in 1:44.94, he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 99, a number none of his rivals has matched at any stage of their careers.

Honest Man looks like the favorite, but appears rock-solid.

Forego Handicap

If Saturday's Forego Handicap at Turfway Park were contested over the track's old dirt track, Three Twenty Three would be an unlikely winner, having compiled a 0-1-0 record from 3 starts on dirt while never posting a Beyer Figure better than a 73.

But on Polytrack, a surface over which he has compiled an 3-2-1 mark in 8 starts, he looks positioned to win his first stakes race.

His speed figures reflect as much. In six starts over Polytrack since July, he has not earned less than an 84 Beyer, and comes off figures of 89, 89, and 90 in his last three Polytrack races.

He also fits in terms of class, having just run second in the Holiday Cheer to Junior College, a gelding who is not in Saturday's Forego. The third- and fourth-place finishers, Storm Marcopolo and U. D. Ghetto, are not in the race, either.

Their absence makes Three Twenty Three's task easier, and his history of breaking sharply - often a length or so ahead of the pack - should aid jockey Rodney Prescott in securing a good early position in a full field of 12.