12/11/2006 12:00AM

Lots of luck catching Symphony Sid


NEW YORK - It may be late in the year, but there are still Grade 1 events to be decided, as evidenced by the biggest race of the day Saturday, the Hollywood Turf Cup at Hollywood Park. Saturday is also Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds, where 11 stakes events for Louisiana-breds will be contested. That is the highest number of stakes events scheduled on one card in Fair Grounds history.

Hollywood Turf Cup

Barring a disastrous break from the starting gate, Symphony Sid is going to have a lead of as many lengths as he wants in this race, in which he is the lone speed. That was the case in his last start, the Carleton F. Burke Handicap, and Symphony Sid is the play to lead this field in a merry chase.

Although Symphony Sid opened up a double-digit lead in the early stages of the Burke and then went on to post a mildly surprising win, he didn't steal that race. He earned it. In the course of establishing his huge early advantage, Symphony Sid set early fractions of 46.12 seconds for the half and 1:10.31 for six furlongs, blistering times for a 1 1/2-mile race. And it's not as if Symphony Sid staggered home, either. He completed his final quarter-mile in 24.75, which was more than respectable under the circumstances.

Symphony Sid has been given ample time to recover from that taxing effort, he races back Saturday at the same 1 1/2-mile distance, and he has clearly improved since being claimed by trainer Mike Mitchell over the summer. But these aren't the only reasons to like him here. Some of his strongest opponents Saturday are not the most trustworthy betting propositions. Artiste Royal seems to lack a killer instinct, and Cosmonaut is most effective in easier spots. Meteor Storm has won only once in the last 2 1/2 years, and Runaway Dancer is 1 for his last 11. Without question, the main danger is T. H. Approval, who is dropping in class after competing in the Breeders' Cup Turf most recently. He is hard to endorse, however, when his price will be small and when he figures to be a very long way back in the early stages.

Louisiana Champions Day Classic

These might prove to be famous last words, but if a race ever looked to be susceptible to a pace collapse, this one does. Costa Rising is the sharpest horse in this field, but he's a speed horse marooned in post 11, and a stretch-out sprinter with early lick breaks right inside of him. There are several other potential pace factors in here, as well. On top of that, very few horses in this race look like they really want this 1 1/8-mile distance.

With that in mind, I'm going with Badtotheboneandrew. Badtotheboneandrew came from off the pace to win this race last year, when it was contested at Louisiana Downs, and his form since has been somewhat darkened with three starts on turf, a surface he just doesn't seem to like. But he was a much-improved second to Costa Rising when he switched back to dirt last time out, he gets a more favorable pace setup this time, and he should be ready for a peak effort in his third start back off a freshening.

Jennings Handicap

Tartlet and Forty Crowns both figure to take plenty of action here off stakes wins in which they earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, but neither has to win. Tartlet's recent win came on an off track, which he won't get Saturday, and Forty Crowns's recent score came over an abbreviated field of questionable quality.

Although his Beyers aren't as good, Due is still the pick. Due is in career form, having won three of his last five starts, including the Maryland Million Classic last out, and he is certain to stay the trip, whereas Tartlet, in particular, is not.