11/02/2009 12:00AM

Finding two hidden gems in replays

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Early Nielsen rating estimates indicate more than 17 million viewers watched the World Series on Wednesday night. Another 6.6 million watched a rerun of "New Adventures of Old Christine" and still another 6.6 million took in "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."

I, on the other hand, was part that that ultra-thin minority that spent the night watching Racereplays.com - and loving every minute of it.

Call it weird, but I hope that come Saturday, I can call the experience profitable.

That's because I believe I have uncovered two fine weekend stakes plays Saturday on horses who experienced trouble or showed flashes of hidden talent.

Let's start on the West Coast, where 2-year-olds headline the six-furlong Jack Goodman Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting - a race Hurricane Ike can win with a clean trip.

He didn't get that at Keeneland when racing in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Oct. 10. Breaking from post 9 in a field of 14, he lost all chance when he broke two lengths slowly, and then quickly fell behind horses.

Uncomfortable in this position, and racing two turns for the first time, he grew uncontrollable for jockey Jesus Castanon, running up on the heels of horses and throwing his head in the air with the frustration of being restrained.

Beyond the problems Hurricane Ike made for himself, he raced approximately five to six wide for much of the race. According to the data-supplying company Trakus, he covered 84 feet more than the horse that broke from the rail, 10th-place finisher Dixie Band.

All things considered, Hurricane Ike did well to stay in contention for six furlongs, before tiring to finish 11th, beaten 15 1/2 lengths.

I'm treating the race as a toss-out, particularly in light of his favorable outside draw in a field of six for the Jack Goodman. From there, jockey Joe Talamo should be able to keep the colt comfortable in the clear, even if Hurricane Ike breaks tardily.

Without flashy Beyer Speed Figures, the price should be respectable on Hurricane Ike, despite the fact that two starts ago he was beaten just 2 3/4 lengths when fifth behind Lookin at Lucky in the Del Mar Futurity.

Blame can beat Fayette favorite

Though Hurricane Ike had a clear excuse in the Breeders' Futurity, Parading lacked one when he finished fourth in his last start in the Oct. 10 Goodwood - aside from getting beat by three good horses in Gitano Hernando, Colonel John, and Richard's Kid.

Yet even taking into account the quality of runners he faced, his race was moderately disappointing considering the favorable trip he enjoyed. He pressed a slow pace, inherited the lead when early leader Tres Borrachos hit the brakes, and then was outquickened despite not being asked for his best until the top of the lane.

It was a race he should have won, or at least run among the top three. And his fade caused trainer Shug McGaughey to withdraw him from Breeders' Cup consideration, opting for Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Fayette instead.

He is the 7-5 morning-line favorite, so I will play against him, taking 3-year-old Blame as an alternative. He, like Parading, won his only start over Keeneland's Polytrack, with his victory coming in a maiden race last year.

It is what Blame has done over his last three starts that make him an appealing play. In each race, he showed a level of tenacity that suggests that he can outfinish Parading.

Racing in a one-mile allowance at Churchill in July, Blame bulled his way through traffic and surged clear in the lane. Next out at Saratoga in the Curlin Stakes at 1 1/8 miles, he closed up the inside on a wet track to outkick eventual Pennsylvania and Ohio Derby winner Gone Astray. And then most recently, Blame went to Louisiana Downs, where he was victimized by a slow pace in the Super Derby, but closed to be second to a loose-on-the-lead front-runner in Regal Ransom.

That effort appeared even better in watching the Super Derby replay than it does on paper. Blame, a stalker, was boxed in until nearing the far turn, when he was sent after Regal Ransom.

Despite the pace quickening at this point, Blame turned in a flashy move to reach contention, and though Regal Ransom was allowed to coast late in the race, the determination Blame showed to make a sustained run over a half-mile is encouraging.