11/10/2008 1:00AM

My Baby Baby may be a value play


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The strength of the favorites is apparent in Saturday's Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs. My Princess Jess, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, is a dual graded winner on turf coming off a third in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, and 3-1 second choice Acoma is a quality filly in her own right, having won the Grade 3 Dogwood on dirt and the Grade 3 Valley View last month in her lone grass start.

The problem is their virtues are impossible to miss. My Princess Jess stands out on the basis of company kept, and Acoma is sure to attract support off her auspicious turf debut, and being a half-sister to successful stallion Arch, her pedigree will similarly draw attention.

As a result, I'm anticipating that both fillies will start below their morning-line prices, likely to the point where their odds will be too short to justify playing them.

Although she's a less likely winner, I'll play My Baby Baby, who disappointed in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, fading to last in the field of 11 after stalking the pace. That race, like her effort in the American Oaks this summer at Hollywood, was not a true indication of her talent.

This filly can run, as she showed in beating older mares off a layoff in the Pleasant Temper Stakes two starts ago at Kentucky Downs.

The primary appeal to My Baby Baby is the return to the Churchill Downs grass course, a surface on which she ran second in the Edgewood in May and later took an allowance in fast time in June.

The latter performance earned her a 101 Beyer Speed Figure, the kind of number that suggests My Baby Baby could prove a factor in the Mrs. Revere.

Also encouraging is the confidence that trainer Kenny McPeek has shown in her. Even off the poor recent race, he is bringing her back in graded stakes company, a signal that suggests she is ready to rebound.

She shows two maintenance works since the Queen Elizabeth II and retains the hot-riding Robby Albarado, who was up for her fast allowance win in June, which came at the Mrs. Revere distance of 1 1/16 miles.

She is 8-1 on the morning line, and could drift higher come post time. In which case, she could provide a useful alternative as a price play to My Princess Jess and Acoma.

Red Smith pace suits Always First

Always First doesn't always live up to his name, but he does more than most horses, making him the selection in Saturday's Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct.

A winner of 7 of 21 starts, he comes off a victory in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland, 1 of 5 victories from his last 12 starts - all of which have been in open or graded stakes company.

In contrast to Always First, several other notable entrants in the Red Smith aren't as prone to winning. Hard Top is 3 for 19 in his career; Interpatation is 1 for his last 22; and Strike a Deal is 3 for 15, with 7 runner-up finishes.

Of those opponents with quality records - such as New York-bred Banrock or the lightly raced Summer Patriot - they have largely raced in easier company.

A marathon specialist, Always First should get a lively pace in the Red Smith, with Presious Passion going to the front while being chased by Lauro, Strike a Deal, and Wheels Up at Noon.

That bodes well for his chances of reproducing his recent Sycamore triumph, which also came from well behind a hot pace.

A lot to like about Ameribelle

With a couple of out-of-state invaders in Saturday's John Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf at Calder for Florida-breds, a little value might be found on Ameribelle, despite her triumph in her lone start on grass.

Breaking from post 2, she benefits from a draw that should allow her to gain a favorable running position.

Her versatile running style adds to her appeal. In winning a maiden dirt race in September, she closed from fifth to score a victory, and last time she sat just off the pacesetter under a firm hold and seemingly could have taken the lead at any time.

A daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, she retains the hot-riding Pascacio "Paco" Lopez - who is winning at a staggering 35 percent clip at the Calder meet.