10/25/2009 11:00PM

Plenty of overlays in Raven Run


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Looking for the best betting race in the country on Saturday? Look no further than the Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland.

As evidence, ponder these morning-line offerings for the Raven Run, a seven-furlong race on Polytrack that has 14 horses in the body of the race, plus two also-eligibles.

Satans Quick Chick, who ran a 100 Beyer Speed Figure on a synthetic track over the summer, is 20-1; Pretty Prolific, second in the Grade 1 Test in August, is 8-1; Slides Choice, a winner of 8 of 12 starts and coming off a 92 Beyer, sits at 15-1; and Don'ttalktome, a three-time stakes winner, is 30-1.

Last but hopefully not least, my selection - Strike the Bell - is an overlaid 20-1.

All the horses mentioned above have legitimate shots to win, as of do the favorites - 3-1 Flashing, 4-1 Just Jenda, and 5-1 Best Lass.

But considering how deep contention runs, I can't back any of the latter three, provided they stick to those prices.

I can feel good about backing Strike the Bell at 20-1, or even 15-1, should she drop to that price. Here's why.

First, she is sharp, having hit the board in five straight races - efforts that earned her Beyers ranging from 86 to 93. Second, she is proven at seven furlongs, having won at that distance on turf at Belmont in May. And third, she fits the profile of a horse who should relish racing on the Polytrack.

Although untested on a synthetic track, Strike the Bell has been versatile enough to run competitively on turf and dirt, with turf being her preferred surface. There, her turn of foot has been most effective, and it should be noted that acceleration is similarly vital in stakes races over Keeneland's synthetic main track.

Throw in that Strike the Bell is by a top all-weather sire in Mizzen Mast, and she has all the ingredients.

Drawn in post 13, she will likely take back behind the speed and come flying through the lane.P

Ravalo can upset De Francis

The Grade 1 Frank De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park also offers the opportunity for a rewarding payoff.

With Vineyard Haven sure to get pounded in the betting off a King's Bishop race in which he crossed the wire first before being disqualified and placed second for interfering with Capt. Candyman Can, the odds should be attractive on multiple stakes winner Ravalo.

A 13-time winner, with 11 of those victories coming at the six-furlong distance of the De Francis, he benefits from a draw that puts him in post 3, just outside of front-runners Vineyard Haven and Roaring Lion, who are in posts 1 and 2.

With those two horses expected to contest the pace, along with others on the outside, Ravalo and jockey Jeremy Rose should find a favorable inside tracking position - which is exactly where this horse likes to be.

My one concern with Ravalo is that he is winless in four races over the Laurel strip, but those starts came so long ago - way back in 2006 and 2007 - that I'm willing to look past it since he will be a price.

Laurel has been his regular base for training, and given that familiarity with the surface, his losses over it might be aberrations.

He likely needs Vineyard Haven to regress, but that certainly is possible off a taxing race in the King's Bishop, which came following a long layoff. Vineyard Haven also is in a difficult spot on the fence, a position from which he will likely have to face intense pressure to his outside.

Minute Limit choice in Ramser 'Cap

Heading west for the Grade 3 Harold C. Ramser Sr. Handicap at Santa Anita, my play is Minute Limit, who makes her stakes debut after five races in maiden or allowance company.

Although she has yet to race in a stakes race, there is little doubt that this is a 3-year-old filly with stakes potential. She has shown as much in two starts in the U.S. after being imported from Britain.

First time out in a May 30 allowance race at Hollywood, she closed up the inside to finish second, beaten a nose by eventual Grade 2 San Clemente winner Starlarks.

Then a race later on Aug. 27 at Del Mar, following minor throat surgery, Minute Limit ran even better, unleashing an eye-catching turn of foot to take the lead in midstretch and coasting to a 1 3/4-length victory.

She has repeatedly broken slowly, but she seems talented enough to overcome that tendency.