01/11/2008 12:00AM

Indian Blessing bad play at short price


LEXINGTON, KY. - If you enjoy three steaks in one day, your cholesterol level might jump precipitously. If you enjoy three stakes in one day at Santa Anita, your cholesterol should be just fine. I'm not a doctor, but for the sake of your health, I strongly encourage you to bet on the three stakes races at Santa Anita on Sunday.

Then use the money you win to buy steaks.

The first of the three stakes races is the seven-furlong Grade 2 Santa Ynez, for 3-year-old fillies. Indian Blessing will be the heavy favorite. She is a perfect 3 for 3, including a 3o1/2-length triumph in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She was an impressive sprint winner going 5 1/2 furlongs in her debut, so cutting back from route to sprint shouldn't be a problem. And she has trained impressively with a sharp 1:10 work at Hollywood Park.

But there is some risk in taking the short price. Betting on horses at low odds first time back from a layoff following a start in the Breeders' Cup has been a losing proposition for years. And although Indian Blessing has trained well on it, you never know for sure how a horse will handle racing on Cushion Track for the first time.

If Indian Blessing disappoints, Champagne Eyes and Golden Doc A are the most likely beneficiaries. Champagne Eyes ran well in all three of her starts on synthetic surfaces. She debuted in a stakes at Santa Anita and finished a solid fourth behind Golden Doc A. Champagne Eyes followed with a second in a stakes at Hollywood. After a career-low 68 Beyer Speed Figure on the dirt at Delta Downs, she dropped to maiden special, returned to Santa Anita, and earned a career-best 86 Beyer. If she can match that number, or surpass it in her first graded stakes race, she'll be a threat.

Golden Doc A was a maiden when she beat California-bred stakes company at Del Mar second time out. She edged stakes rivals at Santa Anita three races later, then proved her versatility when she dead-heated for third in the Grade 3 Miesque while making her first start on grass. The concern is that she is the most experienced runner in the field, with eight career starts, and her best Beyers seem to have peaked in the low- to mid-80 range. If she is the upset winner, it is more likely to be because Indian Blessing regressed than because she uncorked a Beyer in the mid- to high 90s.

The Grade 3 Santa Ysabel is the next stakes, with six 3-year-old fillies running 1 1/16 miles. Grace Anatomy, who finished a contending third in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland, is a prime contender. She finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, then regressed when she beat just one rival in her return from the sidelines in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet. Trainer Doug O'Neill adds blinkers for this race, but his win rate on that equipment change is an ordinary 13 percent, with a low $1.09 ROI.

My choice to win is Turn Away. She was a dominant winner in a 9o1/4-length maiden score at Churchill going seven furlongs in her debut. She tackled Grade 2 stakes company when she stretched out to 1o1/16 miles in the Golden Rod, and ran a big race when she finished third. She stumbled at the start, then lacked room from the far turn until the last few yards of the race. She altered course three times down the stretch, and was still gaining late when she checked in third, beaten by 2 3/4 lengths. Frankel shows 24 percent wins with runners returning from breaks of 31 to 60 days, so Turn Away should be ready for a good effort in her return from the freshening.

The last stakes race on the card is the 1 1/16-mile El Encino, a Grade 2 for 4-year-old fillies, and Romance Is Diane and Tough Tiz's Sis look best.

Romance Is Diane beat Tough Tiz's Sis by a length in the Grade 2 Bayakoa, but Romance Is Diane was loose on the lead throughout in that five-horse field. A check of her past performances shows that she is 3 for 3 when she is allowed a clear early lead, and 0 for 8 when she doesn't lead at the first call. She will face more pace pressure today than she did last time.

It should also be noted that first-call leaders going two turns at Hollywood Park had a higher win rate, 28 percent, than they do at Santa Anita, 17 percent.

Tough Tiz's Sis has done some of her best running on synthetic tracks, with a 3-2-1-0 record. She should enjoy a better trip while tracking a stronger pace today, and is my selection to win the rematch with Romance Is Diane.