08/01/2013 3:48PM

Byron King: Sisterhood worth a look in Clement Hirsch Stakes


The Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga is the race to watch this Saturday, featuring Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man, the one-two finishers from last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, as well as Met Mile runner-up Cross Traffic and five classy others.

Yet the morning-line odds appear on target relative to the chances of the runners, leading this horseplayer to look in other directions for rewarding stakes wagers.

Del Mar’s Clement L. Hirsch Stakes on Saturday seemingly offers more betting upside, with the favored Include Me Out installed as the 9-5 favorite and likely to go off even shorter. This should create inflated odds on other runners.

Although Include Me Out is the most likely winner, having won 7 of 14 starts and more than $956,000, she isn’t a sure thing, having made just one start this year, a victory in a sprint, in preparation for this much tougher race.

Having been unimpressed with the quality of the older females in Southern California this year, I think perhaps an invader to the California circuit can prove an upsetter. At a price.

That invader is Sisterhood, a 10-1 longshot who doesn’t have the flashiest record (3 for 16) or bankroll (a little more than $186,000) but loves racing on Polytrack, the main-track surface at Del Mar.

In four starts on this particular type of synthetic surface, she has a win and three seconds, with two of those runner-up finishes coming in graded stakes races. (She ran fourth on Tapeta at Presque Isle in her only other synthetic-track start.)

Her last race on Polytrack was a particularly strong effort. Racing in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron, she crossed the wire just a half-length behind the victorious Imposing Grace in a fast race that was not reflected by the relatively modest 85 Beyer Speed Figure that Sisterhood earned.

Now, her connections, owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Wesley Ward, are swinging for the fences, going after a Grade 1 on her all-weather surface of preference.

She looks like a legitimate 8-1 shot who could go off in the 10-1 or 12-1 range, which would make her an overlay.

Canterbury: Officer Alex may rebound

Canterbury Park has a quality day of racing Saturday, with three stakes, led by the Mystic Lake Derby, a $200,000 event for 3-year-olds at a mile on turf.

With so many tracks offering stakes for 3-year-olds on grass in the summer months, the ranks for these types of horses are thin, and that is reflected in the Mystic Lake Derby, a race in which stablemates Dorsett and Coastal Breeze are the favorites from the Chicago-based stable of Mike Stidham.

Neither is particularly fast, and if Officer Alex can take to the turf and go a mile, he might be able to upset.

I’m encouraged by the confidence trainer Lynn Whiting shows in testing him in this spot, despite Officer Alex having just run last of five in his turf debut at Belmont on June 28. He isn’t giving up on him as a turf horse, and perhaps horseplayers shouldn’t either.

This is a horse known for running the occasional clunker, but he has returned to form in starts after his flops.

His 9-2 morning-line odds seem fair.

Mountaineer: Flattering Bea looks live

As attractive as the Canterbury card is, it doesn’t compare with that at Mountaineer, where all nine races on its West Virginia Derby card are stakes races.

The big race itself doesn’t hold much wagering appeal, with three solid leading contenders, but one of the undercard races, the West Virginia Secretary of State, does have a live longshot at 8-1 in Flattering Bea.

A winner of 4 of 8 starts, she is in top form. She just missed when second in the Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico after a troubled start, then came back to score a fast allowance win at Charles Town last out.

There also is potential vulnerability in the race favorites, Fusaichiswonderful and Amie’s Dini.

The former was not well supported at the Fasig-Tipton summer sale of horses of racing age, where she sold for $130,000, a surprisingly low amount for a stakes-winning 3-year-old filly with two graded stakes placings. That is likely a negative sign regarding her future. Too many potential buyers avoided her, or her price would have been higher.

As for Amie’s Dini, she hasn’t raced in almost seven months, and though loaded with back class, she hasn’t hit the board in more than a year.