07/09/2010 12:00AM

Play two solid favorites, but avoid a third


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Embur's Song, facing just four rivals, should be hard to deny at Woodbine in the $250,000 Bison City, the richest race on Sunday's stakes schedule.

Embur's Song dominated her rivals in a 13 1/4-length maiden special victory at Keeneland in her debut, and earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure. She defeated older opponents in an allowance race at Woodbine second time out. That form was good enough to make her the 2-5 favorite in the Woodbine Oaks, but her supporters were disappointed when she gave up a 2 1/2-length lead in midstretch and finished third, beaten by 1 1/2 lengths in that 1 1/8-mile race.

Sunday's field of Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies is softer than what Embur's Song faced in the Oaks, and cutting back to 1 1/16 miles, the distance of her allowance win, will also help. Embur's Song, the 1-2 morning-line favorite, is my selection to win.

The battle for second in the exacta should be more competitive. Oil Painting finished fourth as a 23-1 longshot in the Oaks, 8 1/2 lengths behind Embur's Song. Ernfold, who had not finished worse than third in her first six races, finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Oil Painting in fifth at 6-1 odds. The temptation is to prefer Ernfold for second on the hope that she might be able to rebound to the form she showed while finishing a contending second in the La Lorgnette Stakes two races ago. That might turn out to be the right call, but Oil Painting seems likely to pay more in the exacta if she manages to finish second, and there is reason to believe that she also might be set to improve. She is adding blinkers for this race, and that might have something to do with the fact that she turned in a strong 1:00 breeze, third fastest of 43 at the five-furlong distance, since the Oaks.

I will use Embur's Song on top in the exacta over both Ernfold and Oil Painting, but I will be rooting for Oil Painting to finish second as the higher-paying combination.

The Landaluce is a $100,000, six-furlong sprint for 2-year-old fillies at Hollywood Park. On paper, Dawnie Macho is fastest, based on her five-length debut win at Arlington, which netted her a 90 Beyer. A similar performance would probably be good enough to win this race, but it isn't unusual for a swift debut winner to regress second time out. Based on that possibility, I will try to beat her.

Belleofthebridle is the filly most likely to capitalize if Dawnie Macho disappoints. She was a comfortable debut winner against colts at Hollywood at first asking, then finished second as the heavy favorite against colts, 9 1/4 lengths clear of third, in the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes. I will bet her to win, and will key her on top in the exacta over Dawnie Macho; Hi Ho Yodeler, who ran respectably in her debut win then disappointed in the Cinderella; and Izshelegal, who has trained well, and gets some credit for the confidence of her connections, who are running her against stakes company in her debut.

The $100,000 John McSorley, a 5 1/2-furlong turf stakes at Monmouth, looks like an interesting race for exacta bettors. Silver Timber is a 7-year-old gelding who has won seven of his last nine races, including four Grade 3 stakes. He was a decisive winner at this distance on the Monmouth turf course last time, and should have a good chance to repeat in this race. The 6-5 favorite on the track's morning line, Silver Timber is my selection to win.

Blue Sailor led most of the way last time, but gave up a 1 1/2-length lead and finished third, three lengths behind Silver Timber. Despite the late fade, Blue Sailor ran fast enough in defeat to be a prime contender for second in this exacta.

Uncle Gidge isn't as consistent as some of his rivals in this field have been, but he has early and tactical speed and is capable of running well enough to participate in this exacta with one of his better efforts.

Perfect Officer finished fourth behind Silver Timber last time, and eighth behind him two races ago. While he has the ability to be a factor in the exotics, his closing style isn't a good fit for sprint races on this turf course, so I will see if I can beat him in the top two slots.

I will key Silver Timber on top over Blue Sailor and Uncle Gidge in this exacta.