11/10/2005 12:00AM

Mrs. Revere pace fits Isla Cozzene perfectly

Four-Footed Fotos
Isla Cozzene, winning the Hawthorne Oaks, is at her best when racing behind fast splits.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Most grass races, particularly stakes, are run slowly early and quickly late, which essentially turns the contest into a test of who can accelerate best. Every so often, though, turf races develop more like a dirt race, with a fast pace that stretches out the field early and tends to result in less of a sprint to the finish.

Saturday's Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill fits the latter profile. Numerous speed horses are entered in the Mrs. Revere, a 1 1/16-mile grass contest, led by headstrong front-runner Manila Fudge.

With the pace expected to be quick, my selection in the race is a horse established when racing behind fast splits: Isla Cozzene.

Racing Oct. 15 in the Hawthorne Oaks, she stalked demanding early fractions and capitalized, closing from off the pace to win by 3 3/4 lengths. She flew, too, racing 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.54, just .01 of a second off the track record, set in 1999.

Admittedly, the course was at its quickest the week that Isla Cozzene raced there. Still, her time was incredibly fast. Of the 21 other turf races contested at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Hawthorne this year, only one other horse - stakes winner Atlantic Frost - posted a time within two seconds of that of Isla Cozzene. Three days before Isla Cozzene raced, Atlantic Frost won an allowance in 1:42.34.

The Mrs. Revere may set up similarly to the Hawthorne Oaks. I can't envision it developing any other way, not as long as Manila Fudge is in the lineup. Last month at Keeneland, she won a mile race on turf there by establishing a big lead with extremely fast fractions of 21.93 seconds and 45.28. She lasted, winning by a length, but against first-level allowance runners. Against stakes horses in the Mrs. Revere, I doubt Manila Fudge can do the same.

As for others in the Mrs. Revere field, few would figure to benefit as much from a quick pace as Isla Cozzene. My Typhoon looms the greatest danger on class, but all three of her victories have come in races in which the first quarter has been run in over 49 seconds, and she'll be facing a much faster pace here.

Going for value in Pent Up Kiss

Two races earlier on the card, a field of 12 will run in the Pent Up Kiss. Unbridled Sidney, who was awesome in winning a pair of starts at Churchill in the spring, looms a clear favorite.

Although she is the most probable winner in the field, her odds will be too short for my liking, especially carrying 122 pounds.

In a search for value, I'm trying Speedy Sonata, who won a race at Ellis Park in fast time before running fifth in an off-the-turf stakes race at The Meadowlands on Oct. 29. She has been unlucky in 2005 and might have a chance if Unbridled Sidney returns from a layoff a little rusty.

Churchill Trackside a good option

More than a few people, myself included, wonder if Ellis Park has run its last race after suffering damage from a tornado this past Sunday. Even before this natural disaster, the track was a financial drain for owner Churchill Downs, which has had Ellis up for sale for a couple years with no takers.

If Ellis Park is finished - which would be a sad day - then I say convert Churchill Downs Trackside, the Churchill Downs-owned training center in Louisville, back into a racetrack and pick up the Ellis Park dates.

Why not? Louisville is the largest market in Kentucky, the area that consistently bets the most, and quite honestly there are a lot of horseplayers in this area that miss the friendly if unspectacular surroundings of Trackside, which used to host simulcast wagering in the Louisville area prior to Churchill Downs being renovated.

Churchill could expand the training track at Trackside to a mile and run a program catered toward claiming horses. That way it wouldn't directly compete with Arlington, another Churchill property that runs in the summer months.

It would be kind of like the old days, when the harness track Louisville Downs occupied Trackside.