10/13/2003 11:00PM

Big weekend for cashing in on pedigree

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LAS VEGAS - With an abundance of maiden races with full fields, last weekend was a smorgasbord for players who use pedigree as a handicapping tool.

It all began on Friday in Keeneland's first race, where 2-year-old Bornwithit, making only the second start of his career, won a maiden claiming race for juvenile colts by 24 1/2 lengths. Bornwithit was coming off a 32 1/2-length drubbing in his first race at Saratoga, a maiden special weight where he got off to an awkward start and stayed five wide for a good part of the race. But Bornwithit had five pluses going for him that made him more attractive than that race suggested: (1) He had a troubled trip; (2) he was dropping from straight maidens to a $30,000 maiden claimer; (3) his trainer, Nick Zito, has been white-hot at Keeneland; (4) Zito named a live rider, Shane Sellers; and, most importantly, (5) his freshman sire, Charismatic, is off to a terrific start at stud, siring multiple double-digit winners, and this colt is out of the good racemare and producer, Class Is Class. Bornwithit paid $12.80.

Another betting opportunity presented itself at Belmont in Friday's finale, a one-mile maiden race on the turf for New York-breds. Chute the Breeze, a 3-year-old gelding by Rodeo, had run four times on dirt, but his pedigree screamed grass. Although Rodeo was best known for his 15 1/2-length victory on dirt in his debut, he is a son of Gone West, which automatically makes him a candidate for turf. In addition to the Gone West influence on his sire's side, Chute the Breeze is out of a mare by Big Spruce, a son of the legendary grass influence, Herbager. Chute the Breeze returned $33.

Keeneland was the place to play on Saturday. In the day's opener, a maiden special race for 2-year-olds at about seven furlongs, there was a 4-5 favorite, Mayday, who looked vulnerable because of his extreme outside post (12) over a racetrack notorious for its inside speed bias.

Among the interesting longshots was Greedy Executive, who had shown speed and tired in his only start for Zito. By Siphon, Greedy Executive is out of a Kris S. mare, Bird Cage, and this female family has had an extraordinary year. Bird Cage is a half-sister to both Bird Town, winner of this year's Kentucky Oaks and Acorn Stakes, and Birdstone, recent winner of the Champagne Stakes. Greedy Executive battled between horses, took the lead, and then just outlasted Mayday. While Mayday was much the best, his wide trip cost him the race. Greedy Executive paid $32.60.

Keeneland's sixth race provided some delicious pedigree overlays but also a horrific spill in the stretch that cost Al Sami - a 2-year-old colt by freshman sire Victory Gallop from a top Greentree Stud female family - his life. But Saltire, a Kingmambo colt who also had looked especially attractive, was ignored at 22-1, most likely because offspring of Kingmambo are usually more effective on turf. Kingmambo is a superior sire of turf runners, but Lemon Drop Kid, from Kingmambo's second crop, proved he could sire a good dirt horse. With sprint champion Housebuster as his damsire, Saltire had a license to win on dirt. Saltire battled for the early lead and won by 1 1/2 lengths over the 3-5 favorite, Spike the Fever, who was five wide on the turn and into the stretch. Saltire returned a juicy $46.80.

On Sunday, Nick Zito again provided the fireworks at Keeneland. This time, it was Quick Start, a 2-year-old filly bred by Marylou Whitney, who was dismissed at 9-1. By Hennessy, a known source of speed, Quick Start is out of the stakes-winning Dixieland Band mare Sing and Swing. Quick Start's second dam is Sun and Snow, a major stakes winner for C.V. Whitney whose many victories included the Kentucky Oaks. Showing good speed, Quick Start stalked the early leaders, pulled to the lead and prevailed by almost one length, paying $20.20.

Middle distances better for Ruler's Court

Ruler's Court was dominant in winning the Norfolk Stakes and would have been one of the favorites for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, run over the same distance and track. But his owner, Darley Stud, decided to stop on the colt, bring him to Dubai for the winter and prepare him for next year's Kentucky Derby. But is he truly Derby material?

Ruler's Court is by one of this year's leading freshman sires, Doneraile Court (Seattle Slew), a miler who was competitive up to 1 1/16 miles. Ruler's Court is out of the Copelan mare, Future Guest, and while this is a good Fred Hooper female family, it is doubtful that Ruler's Court will be as good beyond 1 1/8 miles. Copelan was a top 2-year-old in 1982, and he had a successful career as a stallion, siring mostly sprinter/miler types.