07/07/2005 12:00AM

Look beyond Lady Riss for value


Locally based Lady Riss is the heavy favorite in Saturday's $40,000 Bungalow Stakes for fillies and mares going a mile at Fairmount Park, and for good reason.

The 4-year-old Lady Riss has 5 wins and 2 seconds in her last 9 races, dating back to late 2004, with Beyer Speed Figures consistently reaching the high 70's.

Among those victories was a decisive win on June 25 at a mile over defending Bungalow champion Princess Paster. The win was no fluke: The last four times Princess Paster has raced, Lady Riss has finished ahead of her.

Princess Paster returns to face Lady Riss again on Saturday, and her trainer, Eddie Essenpreis, thinks she has a chance to turn the tables on her rival.

Essenpreis cites a recent six-week layoff as reason for why Princess Paster might not have been sharp in her last meeting with Lady Riss.

"I didn't really run her enough to get her in the groove last time out," said Essenpreis. "But I think Lady Riss is really on her game right now. I have no excuses at this point. I'm hoping we can do our thing."

Formidable as Lady Riss is as a 9-5 morning-line favorite, Princess Paster offers bettors superb value at 6-1. But perhaps the most intriguing play involves 15-1 longshot Auburn Forever.

While it has been more than a year since the Chicago-based Auburn Forever has won, she has been in career-best form of late. With two thirds and a second in her last four races, Auburn Forever's only out-of-the-money trip was a sixth versus a stacked field in the $85,000 Murphy Handicap at Arlington Park.

Bettors who hold recent form and Beyer Speed Figures in high esteem should feel more than comfortable including Auburn Forever in exotic wagers.