07/31/2008 12:00AM

Heros Reward heads Governor's Cup


Heros Reward, a two-time graded stakes winner in Canada, brings impeccable credentials into Friday night's Pennsylvania Governor's Cup Handicap at Penn National Race Course.

The purse for the 36th running of the track's most prestigious stakes, which will be contested at five furlongs on turf, has been doubled to $100,000. It goes as race 3 on a nine-race card.

The 6-year-old Heros Reward, based in Maryland with trainer Dale Capuano, has been first or second in 11 of 13 starts the past two seasons. His last nine Beyer Speed Figures are between 95 and 103, which compares favorably with the Governor's Cup par of 94 for the five runnings since the race was shortened from 1o1/16 miles to five furlongs in 2002.

Heros Reward closed out a 2007 season in which he won 5 of 10 starts by capturing the Grade 2 Nearctic at Woodbine. He comes into the Governor's Cup off back-to-back wins in the Grade 3 Highlander at Woodbine and the $91,000 Baltimore City Turf Sprint at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard.

The main challengers to Heros Reward, the 124-pound highweight in a full field of 12, look like Indian Ashton and Not Acclaim.

The 4-year-old Indian Ashton, based in New York with trainer Wesley Ward, tired to finish 4o1/4 lengths behind Heros Reward in the six-furlong Highlander. He appears better suited to the five furlongs of the Governor's Cup. His best efforts include a win in the restricted California Sprint Championship Handicap at Bay Meadows in April.

Not Acclaim failed to fire in an overnight stakes at Delaware Park last time, but merits respect coming from the high-percentage barn of Kirk Ziadie, who is 9 for his last 31 with turf sprinters returning in fewer than 14 days, as Not Acclaim does.

The ultra-consistent dirt sprinter Secretintelligence might be a good value play. First or second in all 10 of his starts last year, including back-to-back stakes, Secretintelligence outran his 11-1 odds when he missed by a neck in his turf debut at Delaware Park less than two weeks ago.

Hesa Big Star, a proven turf sprinter with 4 wins in 10 starts at the distance, is eligible to improve after he was bumped at the start and had to steady at the quarter pole of his most recent race.