09/27/2006 11:00PM

Gasia risky bet at low odds on turf


With two stakes victories, placings in two graded events, and more than $300,000 in earnings already this season, Gasia is by far the most accomplished 3-year-old filly in Saturday's $200,000 Martha Washington Breeders' Cup at Laurel Park.

But the 1 1/16-mile turf race may not be an ideal spot for Gasia to perform at her best.

Gasia, based at Delaware Park with trainer Larry Jones, will be making her first start on grass in more than a year and giving away considerable experience on the surface to her nine opponents.

The lone time Gasia tried turf in her 11-race career, she wired four rivals in a 5 1/2-furlong overnight handicap at Ellis Park in early September 2005.

"We have been competing on the dirt this year because that is where the money was, but she is by a Theatrical mare and likes the turf during training," Jones said. "We want to make our mind up on what we want to do with her next year. This is a good test to see where we are."

Jones, winning at a 22 percent clip overall this year, is an icy 4 for 46 with runners switching from turf to dirt the past five seasons and 0 for 11 in turf stakes contested at a mile or longer during that span.

If Gasia goes off at a short price, there are plenty of viable alternatives, starting with New York shippers Meribel and Amansara, who finished noses apart as the one-two finishers in a restricted stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 31. Amansara might have won had jockey Eibar Coa not dropped his whip in the stretch.

"I wouldn't trade places with any trainer in the country when it comes to 3-year-olds fillies on the turf," said Amansara's trainer, George Weaver. "This seems like the logical step for us to go to the next level. We are confident of her ability."

Unlike Meribel and Amansara, who are both closers, locally based Art Show does her best when she's on the lead. Trained by Hamilton Smith, she has been keeping classy company, setting the pace before tiring in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga and finishing third from just off the pace in the $200,000 Virginia Oaks.

Others with a shot include the Todd Pletcher-trained Ebony Rose, second in the Grade 3 Boiling Springs in July; Precious Kitten, third in the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs in July; and Delmarva, dropping out of a non-effort against Grade 1 runners in New York.