10/29/2008 11:00PM

Pretty Prolific playable on many levels


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Sometimes a horse's comment line tells handicappers all they need to know about her last race.

Not so as it applies to Pretty Prolific in Saturday's Grade 3 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs. Although her last-race comment, "lacked late response," accurately describes her finish that led to a sixth in the Arlington-Washington Lassie over Polytrack, it didn't summarize her early trouble.

Racing in a deep field of 11, she broke a step behind the field, and soon after she was cut off by front-runner Mamma Lina. In tight quarters, she threw her head back under restraint from jockey Rafael Bejarano. Then racing in traffic down the backstretch, she did what most young horses do under adverse circumstances - she grew discouraged and quit.

Expect a stronger effort from Pretty Prolific with better racing luck in the Pocahontas, a one-turn Grade 3 stakes on the main track. Returned to dirt, a surface over which she has shown talent, she looks ready to rebound.

Bear in mind this filly won over the Churchill strip in June, debuting with a 3 1/2-length score, a race that preceded a third-place finish behind Mani Bhavan and Doremifasollatido in the Grade 2 Adirondack.

Illustrating the strength of that race, Mani Bhavan subsequently won the Grade 1 Spinaway, and Doremifasollatido returned to take the Grade 2 Matron.

Adding to Pretty Prolific's appeal in the Pocahontas is the return of the hot-riding Julien Leparoux in the saddle. He rode her in her first two starts and brought out the best in her.

Her works further indicate a banner race is on tap. She has breezed consistently at Churchill Downs since the Arlington-Washington Lassie, working a bullet once, and three times recording works that ranked as the second-fastest at their distances.

Rachel Alexandra, the Grade 3 Debutante runner-up who rolled to an eye-catching three-length triumph in an Oct. 17 comeback at Keeneland, looms a legitimate threat to Pretty Prolific. But if Pretty Prolific gets a clean trip, more than likely it will be Rachel Alexandra chasing her across the wire.

Star of David at a price

The Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill, appears more contentious.

Capt. Candyman Can and Brave Victory - the race favorites - are legitimately good horses, but competition runs deep, making a short price on them difficult to accept.

Star of David, 8-1 on the morning line, is my value play. Although he raced on turf this fall at Woodbine, he acts like a horse capable of running just as well, if not better, on the Churchill Downs main track.

If that's the case, he can run with these. Last time out when competing in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes, one of the top preps for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, he finished a respectable third behind Grand Adventure and Skipadate, earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 76.

Saturday, he makes his third start off a layoff and returns to the Churchill Downs main track, a surface over which he won his debut in late June. He is also reunited with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who was up for the maiden win.

His trainer, Steve Asmussen, wins at a high percentage with juveniles and with horses moving from turf to dirt.

Astrologie tops Euro entry

In the wake of the European dominance in the Breeders' Cup, I'll support the French entry of Shake the Moon and Astrologie in Saturday's Grade 3 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct.

Although both Andre Fabre-trained fillies are contenders, I prefer Astrologie, a winner over firm ground who is battled-tested in tougher company overseas. She comes off a fourth-place finish in the Group 2 Qatar Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp Oct. 4.

With sunny conditions forecasted, she should catch the dry ground she prefers.

As a 3-year-old filly taking on more accomplished, older U.S.-based runners, she is also favorably weighted at 115 pounds for the 1 1/2-mile Long Island.

Entrymate Shake the Moon adds depth to the entry, having run first or second in 6 of 9 starts, albeit against easier.