10/01/2008 11:00PM

Cash's Girl offers an extra factor


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When handicapping races over synthetic tracks, horseplayers love a horse with proven all-weather form. Next-best in the eyes of the public is often one moving from turf to dirt, with the idea that races over synthetic tracks, particularly the Polytrack at Keeneland, play similarly.

Overlooked in the mix is the good old-fashioned dirt horse, and sometimes there is value to be found by playing such a runner.

I hope that is again the case when Cash's Girl competes in the Saturday's Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland.

Untested on any synthetic surface, much less Polytrack, she has been dismissed on the morning line, listed at 12-1.

Let's hope that price sticks. Cash's Girl is a fast, talented, off-the-pace sprinter with a pedigree for synthetic success.

She is by Northern Afleet, known for siring Afleet Alex but not for something else - his runners typically perform very well on the all-weather tracks.

In checking Bloodstock Research statistics, Northern Afleet has an excellent ratio of winners to starters on all-weather tracks, and his progeny have similarly accumulated a high level of earnings relative to starters.

More telling than those numbers, however, is his Sire Production Index, a statistical measurement that compares the earnings of a sire's offspring with the average earnings of the offspring of all North American sires. The average is established at 1.00, meaning if a sire's SPI were 2.00, it would indicate his offspring's average earnings are twice the North American average.

This year Northern Afleet has an all-weather SPI of 2.13. In contrast, he has a 1.15 on dirt and a 1.13 on turf.

The 2007 statistics mirror those numbers to a lesser extent. Last year Northern Afleet had an all-weather SPI of 1.55, a dirt SPI of 1.15, and a turf SPI of 1.12.

Considering Cash's Girl has won three dirt stakes this year and comes off a pair of dirt races at six furlongs in which she earned Beyer Speed Figures of 98 and 100, it is exciting to think that she could move forward if she follows in the trend of other horses by Northern Afleet.

Her task isn't easy against a good field that includes Sugar Swirl, Indyanne, and defending champion Wild Gams, but at a rewarding price, Cash's Girl is a filly worth backing.

Breeders' Futurity: Don't knock Terrain

One of the best wagering races of a banner Keeneland card is the Breeders' Futurity, which drew 11 evenly matched juveniles.

My choice is Terrain, who likely won't receive the respect he deserves because his win in the Arlington -Washington Futurity came by way of a double disqualification. Third across the wire, he was placed first after being interfered with in the stretch by Jose Adan and Advice - who crossed the wire first and second.

It was what happened early in the race that grabbed my attention. Terrain, normally a stalker, was ping-ponged out of the starting gate and shuffled back to 10th in the field of 12, a position from which few young horses could have recovered.

But recover he did, swinging into gear in the stretch and finishing just 1 3/4 lengths behind Jose Adan despite being carried out by Advice in midstretch and shut off late by Jose Adan.

"He's very seasoned for a horse for three races," said Terrain's trainer, Al Stall.

Indeed he is. After what happened in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, there is little this horse hasn't seen.

And because he is a former maiden $50,000 runner, and a gelding, no less, my guess is that the public will view him as a cut below a few others in the Breeders' Futurity, despite his 3-for-3 record. He is 6-1 on the morning line.

Advice should also move forward off his Arlington-Washington Futurity performance and looms a contender, but will likely be more heavily bet.

Phoenix: Ravalo has many pluses

Like Northern Afleet, Mutakddim has proven himself a quality synthetic sire, and horseplayers need look no further than Ravalo in the Phoenix Breeders' Cup for an example.

He is 3 for 4 over synthetic tracks, all over the Tapeta footing at Presque Isle, with his one defeat coming in a route.

Now back racing at his best distance of six furlongs, he may return to winning form, although he will face a talented group that includes the comebacking Talent Search, one of the top sprinters of last year.

Also in the lineup is Disfunction, a five-time winner over Woodbine's Polytrack surface and a horse who finished second to eventual Kentucky Cup Sprint winner Fatal Bullet in a stakes race in Canada this July.

I'll still side with Ravalo, who has won 6 of his last 10 starts - all of which have come in stakes company. He has the speed, class, and synthetic success hardly typical of a 12-1 longshot on the morning line.