12/15/2008 12:00AM

Hidden clues point to Warrior Maid


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Warrior Maid merits a wager in Saturday's Louisiana Champions Day Lassie not for what is in her past performances. It is for what is not in those PPs.

Warrior Maid does not own the highest Beyer Speed Figure, nor is she anywhere close to the richest of the 14 juveniles fillies entered in the six-furlong race. She has simply a maiden win to her credit, that being a three-quarter-length score at Delaware Park on Oct. 18, a race that earned her a modest 66 Beyer.

Dig a little deeper, however, and it becomes apparent that the Larry Jones-trained Warrior Maid has a shot to score at a square price.

Although not stated in the brief comment in her one past performance line, which notes she "ran down leader," Warrior Maid broke awkwardly in her lone start, resulting in her racing at the rear half of the pack.

Very quickly she made up ground, first taking dirt in her face on the inside and then advancing three wide to go after the leaders entering the turn. But it was what she did down the lane that caught the eye.

Despite coming into a drive midway on the turn, she leveled out in the stretch, running down the opposition and galloping out lengths in front.

Though her winning time was moderate - six furlongs in 1:12.36 - in examining the company she defeated, it is clear she turned in a quality performance.

Runner-up She's a Wow, a $290,000 yearling trained by Tim Ritchey, later ran second in another maiden race at Delaware; third-place Susquehanna River sold for $100,000 and is another promising Jones-trained runner; and fourth-place Seminole Lass won a maiden race at Laurel next time out for trainer Mike Trombetta.

This maiden race in open company was no doubt tougher than the opposition many of her rivals faced in statebred competition at Louisiana Downs this fall.

Adding to her appeal is her rail draw, a post winning at a 22-percent rate in dirt sprints at Fair Grounds this meet.

Warrior Maid's inexperience is an obstacle in the Lassie - particularly in a large field against some stakes-placed runners such as Seven Seventythree and Lightlightlight. But knowing the quality of her maiden win, and the post advantage she enjoys makes her the value play of the six-furlong race.

Southern Invasion fresh, fit

The headline race of the Louisiana Champions Day card, the $150,000 Classic at 1 1/8 miles, lacks the depth of supporting stakes on the card. But it, too, offers a good wagering opportunity.

Southern Invasion, fifth behind Costa Rising in this race last year, catches an easier group and being fresher, seems more apt to produce a peak effort. Most recently, he returned from a 300-day layoff to win the Cocodrie Stakes at Delta Downs going seven furlongs, a race that should set him up for the Classic.

Despite the long break heading into the Cocodrie, Southern Invasion hardly looked like a horse who had spent that length of time on the sidelines. Under a hard hold early, he passed the stands in last, but didn't remain in that position for long. Tugging at jockey Gerald Melancon, Southern Invasion advanced quickly into contention before surging three-wide on the second turn to take the lead on his way to a length victory.

I expect him to get a favorable stalking trip behind Snug and likely favorite Star Production, a 3-year-old who must spot 5-year-old Southern Invasion six pounds.

Gin and Sin capable of upset

Turning to Turfway Park's feature Saturday, the $50,000 Prairie Bayou at 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack, Extreme Supreme is the most probable winner. He enters the race following three consecutive Beyers of 97 or higher, is a specialist at the distance, and comes off a runner-up finish behind Zanjero over the Turfway surface in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic.

Unfortunately, all that is very plain to see, resulting in Extreme Supreme likely starting at a short price in the 10-horse field.

In search of a horse who might slip through the wagering cracks, my play is Gin and Sin, who ran ninth on the Keeneland turf Oct. 22 but who has typically performed at a high level on grass and Polytrack.

A multiple stakes winner with earnings of more than $530,000, he runs well fresh and has turned in some of his best races when moving from turf to Polytrack.

In two examples, he won a seven-furlong allowance race over Polytrack during the 2006 fall Keeneland meet in 1:21.50, and in the spring of 2007 there, he finished fifth behind Silent Name in the Grade 2 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup, just a length behind runner-up Lewis Michael, a multiple graded stakes winner on synthetic tracks.

Gin and Sin has not performed as well over Turfway's Polytrack surface to date, but he was third in this race two years ago.