08/28/2008 12:00AM

Maidens eye Bassinet prize


In any given stakes race in which four of the 10 starters are maidens, it might be tempting to whittle the number of legitimate contenders to six.

But not so fast. Two of the maidens in the $100,000 Bassinet Stakes own the best lifetime Beyer Speed Figures in the field, and handicappers trying to dissect the six-furlong race might have a difficult time deciding on one of the maidens, or any of the 2-year-old fillies who already have won, as the most likely winner.

The Bassinet, which starts closing weekend Saturday at River Downs in Cincinnati, is carded as the 11th race on a combined 7&7 program with Thistledown. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern. The $200,000 Cradle Stakes, the annual highlight of the River meet, is set for Monday.

None of the 10 fillies in the Bassinet has won a stakes, and only one, Yo Eleven, has won more than once, having captured the Aug. 10 Bassinet prep at River. Yo Eleven, based at the Victory Haven training center in Lexington, Ky., with trainer Mike Crowder, also won a maiden-special race at Churchill Downs in May.

"She's a real honest filly," said Crowder. In the Bassinet prep, "she kind of hopped at the start, so she probably could've won easier that day."

Still, two of the maidens might take more wagering action than Yo Eleven. Robin My Girl was a close second on Polytrack on the Aug. 9 Arlington Million undercard at Arlington Park for trainer Terry Gestes, while Emma Darling was a close fourth in a tough July 28 maiden race on the Saratoga turf for trainer Mike Maker.

The last-out Beyers for the top contenders were 65 for Yo Eleven, 75 for Robin My Girl, and 71 for Emma Darling.

Two Churchill-based trainers with starters in the 2008 running have accounted for seven previous renewals of the Bassinet: Bernie Flint, who is sending out More of the Best, has won the race four times, while David Vance, trainer of Westline, has won it three times, including last year with Kadira.

Gestes won the 2006 Bassinet with Devil House, while Tim Hamm, who on Saturday will saddle Afternoon Stroll, won the 2001 running with Joanies Bella. Afternoon Stroll, a close second as the favorite in the Bassinet prep, will be treated with Lasix for the first time Saturday.