03/24/2005 12:00AM

Cherry Mix may be the value


NEW YORK - Horseplayers are not known as the earliest risers on the planet, but on Saturday, there is a reason for us to set the alarm clock. That is because there is wagering on the last six races of the huge racing card at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai, topped, of course, by the $6 million Dubai World Cup. There are also four other $2 million races, including the Dubai Duty Free and the UAE Derby, and all of them offer large fields of horses with international form, promising the betting value horseplayers crave.

Dubai Sheema Classic

I don't know what jockey Jamie Spencer did to Powerscourt when he was 10th in the Japan Cup and fourth in the Hong Kong Vase. But I do know what Spencer did to Powerscourt in the Breeders' Cup Turf, when he was third after moving a half-mile too soon, and in the Arlington Million, when Spencer couldn't keep Powerscourt straight in the stretch, resulting in his being disqualified from first. Unfortunately, this will not be lost on bettors. Nor will Powerscourt's huge jockey switch to Kieren Fallon, which may make all the difference. Powerscourt can certainly win, but his odds may be too low to accept.

So I'm going with Cherry Mix, who ran a tremendous race when he was second last fall in the Arc de Triomphe. Cherry Mix was close early to a pace that seemed to be very fast, and yet he was caught only very late by Bago, and still finished a length clear for second ahead of the rallying Ouija Board, who came back to win the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. In his only start this year, Cherry Mix was fourth behind three of Saturday's Dubai World Cup entrants, but that was on dirt, and he will relish the switch back to turf.

Lane's End

Texcess has really run only one less-than-solid race, and that was last month in his most recent appearance. He has three excellent workouts at Hollywood Park this month, however, and can rebound right into the winner's circle.

Texcess was 3-5 in the San Mateo Mile last time out and had a big lead in midstretch, only to cough it up. Still, he did earn a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 92 in that race, which tops everyone in this field except for Spanish Chestnut, behind whom Texcess finished third in the San Rafael two starts back. But, Texcess had a wide trip in that race, as well as other legitimate excuses.

As for this race, Texcess could fall into a beautiful stalking trip. Magna Graduate will go early, as will Spanish Chestnut, and perhaps Flower Alley. The removal of blinkers should allow Texcess to relax early and capitalize on what may be a contested pace.

Palm Beach Stakes

Fire It Up has a profile strikingly similar to that of his filly barnmate Cape Hope, and he is the pick to emulate what she has done at Gulfstream. Like Cape Hope did, Fire It Up ships to Florida off a maiden win and an allowance score on the turf at Fair Grounds. Cape Hope went on to win the Gaily Gaily Stakes, then returned to Gulfstream last week to win the Herecomesthebride Stakes.

This is not to say Fire It Up doesn't have assets of his own to recommend him. He took a big step forward Beyer Figure-wise when he won last time out, earning an 86, which is very competitive with this group. Moreover, he doesn't face any killers. The likely favorite, Tadreeb, looked like a winner in the stretch last time out in the Dave Feldman Stakes but failed to get up. And Champagne Brunch, who was fourth in the Feldman, didn't have nearly as much trouble as his comment of lacking room in the stretch suggests.


Nad al sheba: Dubai Sheema Classic
4 and up, 1 1/2 miles, turf

Approximate post: Eastern-10:10 p.m., Central-9:10 p.m., Mountain-8:10 p.m., Pacific-7:10 p.m.; Dubai, U. A. E., forecast: Partly cloudy, 75 degrees

3Collier Hilln/an/an/a40-1
5Prince Arch10297944-1
7Cherry Mixn/an/an/a7-2
9Fight Your Cornern/an/an/a20-1
10Greys Innn/an/an/a8-1
11Phoenix Reachn/an/an/a12-1

Note: Post positions do not correspond with program numbers; program numbers are assigned alphabetically; odds by Alan Shuback

Turfway Park: Lane's End Stakes
3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles

Approximate post: E-5:16 p.m., C-4:16 p.m., M-3:16 p.m., P-2:16 p.m.; Florence, Ky., forecast: Partly cloudy, 52 degrees

1Diamond Isle84847715-1
2Magna Graduate9180833-1
3Wild Desert9087708-1
4Andromeda's Hero7981854-1
5Flower Alley8862-12-1
7Mayan King8686-15-1
8Spanish Chestnut8793905-2
9Mr Sword84897310-1

DRF odds

Gulfstream Park: Palm Beach Stakes
3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles, turf

Approximate post: E-5:21 p.m., C-4:21 p.m., M-3:21 p.m., P-2:21 p.m.; Hallandale Beach, Fl., forecast: Slight chance of rain, 86 degrees

3Fire It Up8670707-2
4So Swanky79645320-1
5Prince Rahy80655320-1
7Fishy Advice7974208-1
8Champagne Brunch8580458-1
9Gun Salute7381714-1

Coupled: So Swanky and Prince Rahy; odds by Art Gropper