03/01/2010 12:00AM

Post really isn't an issue for Amen Hallelujah


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - To some, Amen Hallelujah might appear to be at a tactical disadvantage in Saturday's Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream, having drawn the inside post in a one-turn mile race on the main track.

Entering Thursday's card at Gulfstream, horses breaking from the inside post had an 8 percent win rate, lower than horses breaking from posts in the middle to outside portion of the main track.

Yet that is not reason enough to avoid playing her in the Davona Dale. Post position should not be evaluated by statistics alone; a horse's style and running preference must also be considered.

With those factors in mind, the inside ought to suit Amen Hallelujah just fine. She has already won from the rail, winning from the fence at Arlington in September in fast time. In that race, which sparked IEAH Stables to buy an interest in her, she proved comfortable tucked behind horses on the rail, taking kickback in her face, before exploding up the fence upon entering the stretch.

Amen Hallelujah is a stalker, and with that style, jockey Julien Leparoux should not feel compelled to hustle her in the early stages. He can sit chilly, let her place herself, and target a few leaders in front of her.

One uncertainty with Amen Hallelujah, however, is her ability to handle dirt. She has raced exclusively on synthetic surfaces over her seven-race career. But her dam won half of her eight starts on dirt, with the other four coming on turf, and her sire, Montbrook, is best known as a dirt sire.

Amen Hallelujah's synthetic form is sharp. After her fast allowance win in September, she returned with a pair of thirds in the Alcibiades and Hollywood Starlet before returning to the winner's circle in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez at Santa Anita going seven furlongs Jan. 16.

That was her best performance. She ran quickly, covering the distance in 1:21.39, and outkicked a very good filly in multiple stakes winner Franny Freud, who got first run with a perfect stalking trip.

Amen Hallelujah faces a deeper field in the Davona Dale, which includes fellow graded stakes winners Bickersons and Sassy Image, but I doubt they can match strides with Amen Hallelujah late.

Under-the-radar filly in Sabin

The Grade 3 Sabin, another one-turn mile, goes as the seventh race at Gulfstream, one race before the Davona Dale. It also offers a favorable wagering opportunity.

My play is Jessica Is Back, one of the most underrated fillies in the country. A former $25,000 claimer, she has flourished over the last year for trainer Marty Wolfson, becoming a stakes winner and consistently posting lofty speed figures.

She has earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 98 or higher in five of her last six starts, with her top being a 111. Yet she is not very well known because most of those starts came at Calder.

Jessica Is Back would be more well known had she not been racing against Sweet Repent, who has quickly become one of the leading fillies in the country. Most recently, Jessica Is Back finished second to that rival in the Sunshine Millions Distaff going 1 1/8 miles, a distance beyond her best.

The mile distance of the Sabin suits her better. Being a front-runner, her draw in post 7, outside the other speed, is ideal. She can either set or press the pace.

A play against Borderland favorite

Finally, take a glance at the $100,000 Borderland Derby at Sunland Park. It seemingly offers one of the best stakes wagers in the country Saturday - Storming Saint.

A Sunland-based runner, Storming Saint has a home-track advantage over California shipper and morning-line favorite Tango Tango, who figures to be overbet after exiting the Grade 2 Robert Lewis at Santa Anita Feb. 13.

Keep in mind Tango Tango was fifth in the Bob Lewis - in a five-horse field. The race proved little, except he could not keep up with the best on the West Coast.

Storming Saint's last race was superior. Racing in the Riley Allison Futurity on Dec. 29, he rallied for third despite being hung four to five wide around the turn.

At 6 1/2 furlongs, the Riley Allison was simply too short for him. His even-paced style is suited to routing, which he illustrated by winning a mile maiden race at Zia Park by 13 lengths before his try in the Riley Allison Futurity. The 1 1/16 miles of the Borderland Derby should be just what he desires.