01/11/2010 12:00AM

Price appears generous on Westover Wildcat


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - There are very few times a bettor has an opportunity to bet a 6-1 shot in a race for 3-year-olds in which the horse is the lone stakes winner and coming off a victory in which he raced six furlongs in 1:08 and change, posting a 90 Beyer Speed Figure.

But that is the case with Westover Wildcat, a 6-1 morning-line choice, in Saturday's Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park. And even if he dips below that price, to say 9-2 or 5-1, he will remain the play of the day on a blockbuster card that also includes four other stakes races.

The reasons are twofold. First, Westover Wildcat is a better horse than many realize, and second, there are clear disadvantages to backing those facing him. Some of his opponents look vulnerable to regression, or will simply be overbet.

Let's start with Westover Wildcat's strengths. As noted, he's very fast. In winning the Bold Lad Stakes at Belmont going the Spectacular Bid's distance of six furlongs, he ran the distance in 1:08.81 - a time rarely seen from a 2-year-old running in stakes company in October.

That was by no means his only good race. This is a horse who won his first race at Saratoga in a straight maiden race - and there is simply no better 2-year-old racing anywhere than at the Spa in the summer months. He also ran fifth in the Grade 1 Hopeful despite breaking from the rail there.

His versatile running style is another plus. This horse won the Bold Lad on the lead, and showed in the winning at Saratoga that he is just as capable from just off the pace - tactics he will likely have to utilize in a speed-laden Spectacular Bid.

As for being unraced since the Oct. 25 Bold Lad, don't view that as a negative signal. Remember that most juvenile races in the fall are geared toward milers and routers. So the time off after the Bold Lad made perfect sense for a horse who needed to be geared up for early in 2010, when prestigious sprint stakes resume for 3-year-olds.

Turning to morning-line favorites Discreetly Mine and Wildcat Frankie, both look at risk of regression. Front-running Discreetly Mine is disadvantageously drawn in post 2, inside all the other speed. And Wildcat Frankie looms a likely bounce candidate after romping to a 15 1/2-length victory Dec. 12 at Calder, a race that earned him a 95 Beyer. Fast first-out maiden winners rarely run back to such numbers when stepping up into stakes company.

Freshened after a career-best performance in the Bold Lad, Westover Wildcat is much more likely to run another smasher.

Old Hat: 'Ashley' offers value

The sister race to the Spectacular Bid, the Grade 3 Old Hat, is also inundated with speed, setting the race up for a stalker such as Dances With Ashley.

Perfect in two starts, Dances With Ashley has won her races from just off the pace - and going distances shorter than the six furlongs of the Old Hat.

Admittedly, she hasn't run as quickly as the unbeaten Cuff Me, who is expected to be the heavy favorite, but her Beyers match up well in comparison with other entrants. And having raced exclusively at Calder, she might be mistakenly overlooked in a field that includes numerous northern invaders.

She is an overlay at 6-1 on the morning line.

Busanda: Short rest no problem

Lastly, Fuzzy Britches looms a high-percent win play in the Busanda for 3-year-old fillies going a mile and 70 yards at Aqueduct - though she will offer less value than Westover Wildcat and Dances With Ashley.

She benefits from catching a weak field, and my hope is that she will go to post at her morning-line price of 6-5, instead of 4-5 - the price she deserves to be - because her last race, a victory in starter allowance competition, came Wednesday.

You read that right -- Wednesday - as in Jan. 6.

In the hands of most trainers, she would be a toss-out racing three days later. But Rick Dutrow trains this one, and he wheels horses back regularly and with success. He likes to train horses fresh up to races, or bring them back quickly on short rest.

Amazingly, he has started 53 horses on three days or less of rest over the past five years - winning with 13, good for a 25 percent win rate. Among that group, 60 percent hit the board.

Look for Fuzzy Britches to add to those lofty numbers with a win in the Busanda. She stands out on numbers and is already graded stakes-placed around two turns.