06/22/2006 11:00PM

Eppler's local form enticing


You have to like trainer Mary Eppler's chances when she runs a horse in a turf sprint at Colonial Downs under jockey Horacio Karamanos.

Eppler has had eight such starters since 2002, winning with five and running second once. On Saturday, she sends out another - Bright Gold, in a field of 12 fillies and mares in the $60,000 Buckland Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf.

, 6, enters the race with the highest lifetime earnings in the field by far and with six Beyer Speed Figures in the 90's in the past year, twice as many as any of her rivals.

If that's not enough, Bright Gold won the Buckland last year, paying $19.80, then came back a month later and won the Somethingroyal, also a sprint stakes on the turf at Colonial for Eppler.

Over the past two years, Bright Gold's record is hard to top: 6 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 10 starts.

She enters the Buckland in form, too, running second of 11 in the $75,000 The Very One Stakes at five furlongs on turf at Pimlico last out on May 19, and she has a bullet five-furlong work since.

Her toughest rival Saturday might be Kiss Me Kate, who also ran in the The Very One, finishing third, only a head behind Bright Gold. Kiss Me Kate was 16-1 that day while Bright Gold was 4-1, and they ran neck and neck in deep stretch, with Kiss Me Kate traveling slightly faster at the wire.

will be ridden Saturday by Colonial's leading rider, Ryan Fogelsonger. The downside is her Beyer Figure of 92 last out is tops in her 29-race career, and for a 6-year-old suddenly to run back-to-back career-top Beyers would be unusual.

Spring Kitten, Partners Due, Listen, Rafa, and Beautiful Bets are also upset possibilities.

won the Buckland in 2004 and ran third in it last year at 17-1.

Partners Due has three wins in her last 10 starts, three recent bullet works, and two Beyers in the 90's, but she is unraced since November.

Listen has 3 wins in 6 starts and one Beyer in the 90's, but is making her turf sprint debut.

Rafa's Beyers aren't competitive, but she goes for trainer Sajjad Mahar, whose lifetime record in turf sprints is 3 wins and a second from 8 starters with a $14.27 return on investment.

Beautiful Bets is dropping from graded stakes her last three starts, has three Beyers in the 90's since November, and in her lone turf sprint try in 39 lifetime starts closed from 13th to fifth, beaten only a length, in a $100,000 stakes at Fair Grounds last year. But she has won only once in her last 24 starts.