02/26/2008 12:00AM

Fountain of Youth offers nice prices

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - There are two races with Kentucky Derby implications on Sunday at Gulfstream. One of them should be competitive. The other figures to be a huge mismatch.

Let's start with the mismatch. The undefeated War Pass, the champion 2-year-old male of 2007, has been made the 2-5 morning-line favorite going a mile in a six-horse allowance field.

How good are his opponents? Chadwell earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 25 last time, only 88 points lower than the 113 Beyer Figure that War Pass earned winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Dylan's Choice beat $8,000 maiden claimers at Tampa last time. Jet Run finished fifth of eight in a $62,500 claiming race last time. Web Gem finished in the rear half of his field in a pair of allowance races in his most recent starts. Ultimate Authority's last win was earned six races ago, but the good news is that he managed to finish third in each of his last three races. In fact, he was claimed from the last one for $62,500. That's a vote of confidence coming into a race vs. War Pass, isn't it? Think about it. Wouldn't it have been worse if he hadn't been claimed?

I'm not much for taking low odds on any betting proposition, but I have to say that 2-5 seems like a ridiculously high morning-line price on War Pass. I would gladly take 2-5 on War Pass, just like I would have gladly taken 2-5 on the powerful entry of the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes vs. General Custer at the Little Bighorn, or 2-5 on the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals, who exist for the sole purpose of losing every time they play the Globetrotters.

The Grade 2, $350,000 Fountain of Youth should be much more competitive.

Court Vision is the 3-1 favorite. He beat maiden specials at Keeneland second time out, then followed with a Grade 3 win going a mile at Churchill in the Iroquois, and a Grade 2 win at 1 1/8 miles in the Remsen at Aqueduct. Contrarians should note that he was hard-pressed to win both of those races, and he earned a Beyer Figure of only 76 for his victory in the Remsen. The fact that he is returning from a three-month vacation is also a concern. There are other contenders in this race who will offer much more betting value, so I'll see if I can beat him in the top slot.

Tactical speed has been an advantage in two-turn races at Gulfstream, and Cool Coal Man looks best of the contenders who have that running style. He earned a 92 Beyer when he wore down Golden Spikes in an allowance prep in his return from a two-month layoff last time, and he probably won't have to run much faster than that to win this race. He was fastest of 58 when he worked a half-mile in 47.20 seconds at Palm Meadows since that win, so an improved performance is a distinct possibility in the second race of his form cycle. His 6-1 morning-line odds look like an overlay, so I'll give him the call as my top pick. But two other contenders in this field are also capable of winning at nice prices.

Kentucky Bear is an interesting possibility as a 10-1 longshot. He was impressive when he opened up late to beat maiden specials by 6 1/2 lengths going a mile at Gulfstream in his debut. He earned a 93 Beyer in that race and was subsequently flattered when the third-place finisher, Samba Rooster, won his next race by 5 3/4 lengths and improved his Beyer from the 80 he earned behind Kentucky Bear to an 83 in his victory.

Adriano has raced on turf four times, and on Polytrack once. He deserves respect for his fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last year. And he ran a nice race when he put in a powerful stretch run that carried him from sixth to a dynamic 6 3/4-length win in an allowance race on the turf in his first start this year. His 20-1 morning line is a bargain, and if tactical speed isn't holding today, he can upset this field.

Z Humor didn't run his race when he finished fifth as the 6-5 favorite in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa in his return. He washed out in the paddock that day, and should be considered at 8-1 on the morning line as he tries to rebound. Use him in the exotics.

Monba fell uncharacteristically far behind and didn't get untracked until the top of the stretch at Hollywood in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity. Nevertheless, he was flying late and finished a solid fourth, beaten by 2 1/4 lengths. He can be a factor if he is able to get better early position today. He's the second betting choice on the morning line at 4-1, and won't offer as much betting value as the other contenders I like.