06/20/2008 12:00AM

Filly viable alternative to Plate favorites


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The best stakes races on Sunday will be run at Woodbine. The action begins with the fifth race, the Grade 3 Scotts Highlander, a six-furlong turf sprint. Race 7 is the Grade 3 Singspiel, a 1 1/2-mile turf race. The ninth race is the 149th running of the Queen's Plate, a 1 1/4-mile race on Polytrack, with a $1 million purse.

The Queen's Plate features a 15-horse field. Not Bourbon is the 3-1 morning line favorite. He has compiled a 9-4-2-1 record, with all of those races run on Woodbine's Polytrack.

Not Bourbon held on to win the Plate Trial by a neck, but Solitaire was making good late progress in second. That rival is appealing, since he should like the extra furlong in the rematch today, and has more reason to continue to improve in his third career start than Not Bourbon does in his 10th start. Solitaire is the second choice on the morning line at 7-2.

I will pick Solitaire second, with Not Bourbon third. My top selection is Ginger Brew, the lone filly in the race. She was stuck uncharacteristically far back early, made a powerful rally to reach contention, then dominated her rivals down the stretch when she won the Woodbine Oaks by six lengths two weeks ago. She will probably get better early position while tracking the speed four or five lengths off the pace, and she could be sharp enough to kick past her opponents again. She's listed as the third betting choice at 4-1 morning line odds.

There are a number of contenders who are in good form in the Scotts Highlander, with five of the 10 entrants showing wins last time out. My selection is Heros Reward, who has done some of his best running on the grass at Woodbine. He shows three triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures from his last 12 races, and two of them were earned in his two races on the turf at Woodbine. Heros Reward came into this race last year with four straight wins. He finished a close second, with a 102 Beyer. He returned to Woodbine four races later, and won the Grade 2 Nearctic, with a 103 Beyer. He has enough speed to battle for the early lead if he is asked to do so, but he is also capable of rating off the pace. Solid fractions are likely.

Indian Ashton looms as a prime contender. He has won three of his last five races, including a $100,000 optional claiming race at Churchill last time. He has run against stakes company twice, with his best finish a contending fourth in the Grade 3 Aegon Turf Sprint at Churchill two races ago. He figures to be on, or up close to the early lead.

Wollemi Pine is my third choice. He has won two straight races, and likes this turf course with a 7-2-2-1 record. If the fractions are aggressive, he will be dangerous as an off-the-pace runner who likes to track the speed from easy striking distance, about three lengths behind the leader.

In the Singspiel, I plan to key Rahy's Attorney on top. All 13 of his races were run at Woodbine. He is a horse for this turf course with 5 wins and a third from 6 races. By comparison, he shows just 1 win from 7 races on Woodbine's Polytrack. He ran in his first graded stakes race last time, when he beat Grade 3 opponents in the Connaught Cup. His $34.10 win price was pretty high for a horse who came into that race with such a good turf record locally.

The knock against Rahy's Attorney is that he hasn't yet been asked to cover 1 1/2 miles in a race, but he did finish a solid third going 1 1/4 miles last year, and he is much improved since then.

Mission Approved was not a threat when he finished seventh on yielding turf last time at Belmont, but he would be a prime contender with a return to form, and deserves respect.

Shillelagh Slew is my third choice. He was up close early, lost position, then rallied back to finish sixth behind Rahy's Attorney last time. A better trip would make him a factor in the exotics at overlaid odds.

Marchfield could be a factor. He is proven at this distance with a stakes win on this turf course last year. He is coming around now, with a second-level allowance win at Churchill last time, and continued improvement is likely in the third race of his form cycle.

Tap Show ran a good race when he upset $80,000 optional claimers here last time, but he might be better on Polytrack than he is on grass.