05/06/2010 11:00PM

Class drop, distance cut back favor Switch

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Switch (4) was a close third behind Blind Luck (1) and Evening Jewel (2) in the Las Virgenes.P

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Handicappers will have a few questions to wrestle with while examining the seven-furlong, Grade 3 Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park on Sunday. Do they prefer the 3-year-old filly with sharp recent form who just won at this class level last time, or the one who is dropping in class while looking for her first victory against winners?

Should the search for the winner also include two potential upsetters who ran improved races last time?

Tanda has won three of her last four races. It seemed that she was a turf specialist when she won her maiden going 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill at Santa Anita, then finished second in a stakes and defeated first-level optional $80,000 claimers at that same distance on that course. That perception changed when Tanda won the 6 1/2 furlong, Grade 3 Santa Paula by 4 1/4 lengths on Pro-Ride at Santa Anita. The 97 Beyer she earned in that race towers above the best Beyers owned by every other filly in the Railbird field.

Handicappers who emphasize class might have a different view of the Railbird. Switch graduated at Hollywood in her debut, then lost three subsequent races. But she was battling classier rivals in those starts. Switch finished a contending third next time in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez, a half-length behind Franny Freud, who won the Grade 2 Beaumont in her next start, and 1 1/4 lengths behind Amen Hallelujah, who won the Grade 3 Davona Dale next time out. Switch finished third in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes, a half-length behind Blind Luck and Evening Jewel, who won the Grade 1 Ashland in her next start. Switch battled through a fast pace and tired late last time going 1 1/8 miles in the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss. She finished a non-threatening fourth behind Devil May Care, Amen Hallelujah, and Joanie's Catch.

Cutting back to seven furlongs should suit Switch well, and she has been training impressively with a half-mile in 46.40 seconds and five furlongs in 58.80 at Santa Anita, and six furlongs in 1:10.80 at Hollywood.

Seriously earned a career-best 89 Beyer last time, when she missed by a nose in a first-level optional $80,000 claiming race at Hollywood in her return from a 2 1/2-month layoff. It probably isn't a coincidence that her highest Beyers were earned in her two races on Hollywood's Cushion Track. Improvement is possible second time back.

Southern Fireball earned a career-best 90 Beyer when she beat maiden specials going 4 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood last year in her second start. She didn't come close to matching that number in two subsequent races as a 2-year-old, but she earned an 86 going 6 1/2 furlongs last time when she tried turf for the first time in her return from an eight-month vacation. Her 211 turf Tomlinson (from a small data sample) doesn't suggest that she improved because of the surface switch, so she might be set to run as well or better second time off the bench as she returns to Cushion Track. It is encouraging to note that she was fastest of 24 in a subsequent six-furlong work in 1:12.20 at Hollywood.

I will give the call to Switch as my top selection. I will include Tanda for second in the exacta, but that will probably be a chalky combination, and with the possibility of a bounce by Tanda after her big Beyer improvement last time, I will concentrate most of my exacta play using Seriously and Southern Fireball for second, hoping for a higher payoff. I will also make a saver win bet on Southern Fireball.

Vigil: Fatal Bullet key in exacta

There is another seven-furlong Grade 3 stakes on Sunday. A field of seven is expected to compete in the Vigil at Woodbine. Fatal Bullet finished sixth, just 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner, in the Breeders' Cup Sprint in his last race, and should be the horse to beat. He loves Woodbine with six wins and a second from seven local starts, and has been training impressively for his return. I will use him on top in the exacta over the two following horses: Hollywood Hit and Field Commission.

Hollywood Hit has won 5 of his 10 starts, and looms as the primary threat. He has won 3 of 4 races at Woodbine, and deserves respect as he steps up to tackle graded stakes company for the first time. He could be the speed of the speed.

Field Commission was last of five early and rallied to finish second, a half-length behind Hollywood Hit, going six furlongs. The extra furlong might be all he needs to find his way into the exacta at reasonable odds.

Together Indy won the Grade 2 Commonwealth at Keeneland last time, but his Beyers are on the low side and he will have to continue to improve to be effective against this group. I will try to beat him.LEXINGTON, Ky. - Handicappers will have a few questions to wrestle with while examining the seven-furlong, Grade 3 Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park on Sunday. Do they prefer the 3-year-old filly with sharp recent form who just won at this class level last time, or the one who is dropping in class while looking for her first victory against winners?

Should the search for the winner also include two potential upsetters who ran improved races last time?

Tanda has won three of her last four races. It seemed that she was a turf specialist when she won her maiden going 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill at Santa Anita, then finished second in a stakes and defeated first-level optional $80,000 claimers at that same distance on that course. That perception changed when Tanda won the 6 1/2 furlong, Grade 3 Santa Paula by 4 1/4 lengths on Pro-Ride at Santa Anita. The 97 Beyer she earned in that race towers above the best Beyers owned by every other filly in the Railbird field.

Handicappers who emphasize class might have a different view of the Railbird. Switch graduated at Hollywood in her debut, then lost three subsequent races. But she was battling classier rivals in those starts. Switch finished a contending third next time in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez, a half-length behind Franny Freud, who won the Grade 2 Beaumont in her next start, and 1 1/4 lengths behind Amen Hallelujah, who won the Grade 3 Davona Dale next time out. Switch finished third in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes, a half-length behind Blind Luck and Evening Jewel, who won the Grade 1 Ashland in her next start. Switch battled through a fast pace and tired late last time going 1 1/8 miles in the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss. She finished a non-threatening fourth behind Devil May Care, Amen Hallelujah, and Joanie's Catch.

Cutting back to seven furlongs should suit Switch well, and she has been training impressively with a half-mile in 46.40 seconds and five furlongs in 58.80 at Santa Anita, and six furlongs in 1:10.80 at Hollywood.

Seriously earned a career-best 89 Beyer last time, when she missed by a nose in a first-level optional $80,000 claiming race at Hollywood in her return from a 2 1/2-month layoff. It probably isn't a coincidence that her highest Beyers were earned in her two races on Hollywood's Cushion Track. Improvement is possible second time back.

Southern Fireball earned a career-best 90 Beyer when she beat maiden specials going 4 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood last year in her second start. She didn't come close to matching that number in two subsequent races as a 2-year-old, but she earned an 86 going 6 1/2 furlongs last time when she tried turf for the first time in her return from an eight-month vacation. Her 211 turf Tomlinson (from a small data sample) doesn't suggest that she improved because of the surface switch, so she might be set to run as well or better second time off the bench as she returns to Cushion Track. It is encouraging to note that she was fastest of 24 in a subsequent six-furlong work in 1:12.20 at Hollywood.

I will give the call to Switch as my top selection. I will include Tanda for second in the exacta, but that will probably be a chalky combination, and with the possibility of a bounce by Tanda after her big Beyer improvement last time, I will concentrate most of my exacta play using Seriously and Southern Fireball for second, hoping for a higher payoff. I will also make a saver win bet on Southern Fireball.

Vigil: Fatal Bullet key in exacta

There is another seven-furlong Grade 3 stakes on Sunday. A field of seven is expected to compete in the Vigil at Woodbine. Fatal Bullet finished sixth, just 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner, in the Breeders' Cup Sprint in his last race, and should be the horse to beat. He loves Woodbine with six wins and a second from seven local starts, and has been training impressively for his return. I will use him on top in the exacta over the two following horses: Hollywood Hit and Field Commission.

Hollywood Hit has won 5 of his 10 starts, and looms as the primary threat. He has won 3 of 4 races at Woodbine, and deserves respect as he steps up to tackle graded stakes company for the first time. He could be the speed of the speed.

Field Commission was last of five early and rallied to finish second, a half-length behind Hollywood Hit, going six furlongs. The extra furlong might be all he needs to find his way into the exacta at reasonable odds.

Together Indy won the Grade 2 Commonwealth at Keeneland last time, but his Beyers are on the low side and he will have to continue to improve to be effective against this group. I will try to beat him.