09/23/2009 11:00PM

Dubious Miss offers price in Ky. Cup Classic


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Hold Me Back is the most probable winner of Saturday's Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park. He easily owns the top last-race Beyer Speed Figure - a 105 posted in running second in the Grade 1 Travers. He is 3 for 4 on synthetic tracks, including a victory over the Turfway Park Polytrack strip in the March 21 Lane's End, and he is the richest entrant, with more than $708,000 in earnings.

The problem, of course, is these virtues are obvious to everyone. At 7-5 on the morning line, he figures to drop to even money or less at post time.

That is simply too short of a price for this horseplayer to accept on a horse with no early speed and facing elders for the first time.

As a value-priced alternative to Hold Me Back, my choice is Dubious Miss, the runner-up in the Grade 3 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington on Sept. 5. Although erratic in terms of speed figures, he is a horse with a stellar 6-for-13 record.

He also has Calvin Borel in the irons, which is a plus for just about every horse, but even more so in the case of Dubious Miss. Borel is 5 for 5 riding him, while other riders are 1 for 8.

Don't think for a moment that is mere coincidence. Borel's style suits certain horses particularly well, with Derby winner Mine That Bird being yet another example.

Beyond horse and rider, another favorable sign for Dubious Miss is his outside draw.

Turfway - for whatever reason - is kind to horses breaking toward the outside, in contrast to most tracks, where inside starting positions and paths are advantageous.

Further working in his favor is lack of quality speed in the race. Borel should be able to settle him in a comfortable, pace-pressing gallop on the outside, getting the jump on the late-running Hold Me Back.

Containing that rival in the stretch will no doubt prove challenging. But if Dubious Miss sticks to his 7-2 morning-line price, he is the best wager in the race.

Sprint: Lots to like about Ju Jitsu Jax

In contrast to the Classic, the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Sprint for 3-year-olds lacks a clear-cut favorite, with Guam Typhoon, a first-time synthetic runner, a tepid 3-1 choice on the track's morning line.

In a contentious race, horseplayers should emphasize value and keep a close eye on the toteboard for overlays.

Provided he starts at 8-1 or higher, my play will be longshot Ju Jitsu Jax, an untested synthetic performer but a colt that has shown that he can handle just about any track condition. He has won dirt races on fast, good, and sloppy tracks, and was second most recently Sept. 6 in the Gilded Time Stakes at Monmouth on a firm turf course.

Trainer Scott Lake has won with four of his last eight horses moving from turf to synthetic tracks, and with Ju Jitsu Jax being by Tiger Ridge, whose offspring tend to like all-weather tracks, there is more evidence to suggest this horse should like Turfway's Polytrack.

He also is fast and classy. Three times he has posted Beyers of 94 or higher, and he comes into the Kentucky Cup off six consecutive stakes races.

Except for when he has faced some of the elite 3-year-old sprinters in the country - horses like This Ones for Phil, Everyday Hero, and Big Drama - Ju Jitsu Jax has consistently been a factor.

Distaff: Bear Now looks vulnerable

Millionaire Bear Now, last year's Kentucky Cup Distaff winner, will likely be favored to win the race for a second consecutive year. But I have reservations about supporting her off a layoff dating back to late June.

Instead, I'll try Indescribable, who was sharp in winning the Grade 3 Doubledogdare over Keeneland's Polytrack in April. Granted, her form in recent months has been poor, but she has trained well at Saratoga in recent weeks for trainer Bill Mott, and perhaps the return to racing over a synthetic track is what she needs to get back to her best.

She has an outside draw, and also working in her favor is the presence of other speed horses in the race.

Even if the speedy Dreaming of Liz is scratched - she is cross-entered in Saturday's $100,000 HBPA stakes at Presque Isle - Gardenia winner Whirlie Bertie appears to have the quickness to push Bear Now into a quick pace.