09/27/2006 11:00PM

Good Reward among 5 value plays


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Sometimes when betting stakes races it can be hard to uncover live longshots, as so often stakes races have short fields.

That is not a problem for Saturday's Kentucky Cup card at Turfway Park on Saturday. Four of the five stakes on the card drew full fields, with the exception being the seven-horse Kentucky Cup Classic. Even that race may offer some value, simply because the entrants appear evenly matched.

Here is a look at the five stakes and the horses I consider to be threats at good prices:

Kentucky Cup Classic

Premium Tap, winner of the Grade 1 Woodward, and Perfect Drift, an earner of nearly $4.6 million, figure to start as the favorites in the 1 1/8-mile Classic. But both horses come into the race with too many question marks for me to support them at short prices.

Premium Tap defeated a better field in the Woodward than he faces in the Kentucky Cup, but I think he was fortunate that both Flower Alley and Suave - two of the favorites - ran so poorly in finishing seventh and 10th in that race. A 31-1 winner of the Woodward, he figures to go off at one-tenth that price in the Kentucky Cup Classic.

As for Perfect Drift, he figures to get overplayed with the hot-riding Julien Leparoux climbing aboard. Leparoux is skilled, but Perfect Drift has been ridden by a number of top riders in recent years, and irrespective of who has been his pilot, the horse has regularly settled for minor awards in top company.

I am going to take a shot with Good Reward, who is expected to start as the third choice at odds of around 4-1. An inconsistent horse, he comes off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Brooklyn, which followed a runner-up finish behind Lava Man in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.

A dual Grade 1 winner on turf, he is being wheeled back on two weeks' rest by trainer Shug McGaughey - an encouraging sign since McGaughey is typically conservative. It suggests to me that he came out of the Brooklyn in good shape. He can win if able to run back to his effort in the Pacific Classic.

Turfway Breeders' Cup

Stop a Train, a maiden in early May of this year, has made steady improvement through the summer and fall, rising from the maiden and allowance ranks to become graded placed with a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron Sept. 2.

Besides earning a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure, she also showed heart to grab second in that race - outrunning stablemate Sunset Kisses, a mare that subsequently came back to win an overnight stakes race at Calder Sept. 22.

Whether or not she can keep up with Splendid Blended and Prospective Saint remains to be seen, but she could be overlooked coming from Illinois. She offers value at 15-1 odds.

Kentucky Cup Sprint

At least six of the entrants are front-runners, which makes this race ripe for an off-the-pace winner - a stalker such as Ghosttrapper.

He has consistently posted some of the top Beyers in the field, but because his last four starts have come at Mountaineer Park, he will likely be viewed with skepticism by some horseplayers.

I think he measures up well with the race favorites Likely and Island Warrior. He finished just three-quarters of a length behind Island Warrior when they met at Churchill Downs in June, and Ghosttrapper appears to have improved since. He looks like an overlay at 8-1 odds.

Kentucky Cup Juvenile

Shore isn't as flashy as some others in the lineup, but what he does have is heart. He has been in photo finishes in three of his four starts, while twice proving victorious.

He outgamed Hey Bill and U D Ghetto to win an allowance Sept. 9 over the Polytrack surface at Turfway, showing a liking for racing two turns. He also won a maiden race in game fashion at Churchill in June.

Although unplaced in his only prior stakes attempt in the Mountaineer Juvenile Aug. 6, he did beat some quality opponents at Churchill, including Unbridled Express, the eventual third place finisher in the Grade 1 Hopeful. He should be an attractive price, likely starting at 6-1 or higher.

Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies

Kauai Calls, a $2 million yearling purchase who is unbeaten in two starts, figures to attract strong betting support, along with Whatdreamsrmadeof, who was solid privately after a dominant maiden victory at Saratoga Aug. 28.

With those two fillies taking considerable action, Frisk Her may slip past the public. A daughter of leading first-crop sire Officer, she posted a neck victory at Monmouth Park Sept. 7 in her only start.

Showing speed from the start, she bravely turned back a challenge from her stablemate Caught Red Handed, who subsequently won at Monmouth by 7 3/4 lengths Sept. 21.

Kelly Breen, Monmouth Park's leading trainer the past two years, trains Frisk Her. She is playable if she sticks to her 8-1 morning-line odds.