06/21/2009 11:00PM

Rescue Squad at his best on grass


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In the old days, before race replays were so easily accessible on the Internet, Rescue Squad likely would have been a 6-1 shot in a race like Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup after coming off a 4 3/4-length victory April 19 at Keeneland.

Not now. Not when races from virtually every track can be seen on computers at the click of a mouse. Instead, anticipate him drifting up from 6-1, perhaps going off at 10-1, on the heels of a perfect-trip victory at Keeneland that will likely cause some bettors to steer clear of him and look in another direction.

At least, that is the hope.

So why like a horse coming off a dream trip, a race in which he was able to rally up the inside and capitalize from the leader blowing the final turn? Because perfect trip or not, he did everything right - running quickly over Polytrack, which was new to him and probably not his best surface.

Rescue Squad is truly a grass horse, and if handicappers dig a bit deeper into his past performances and watch the replay of his last turf race, they'll find him much more appealing.

Competing in a stakes-quality, first-level allowance on the grass at Keeneland on April 5, he rallied from eighth to grab third with an unfortunate trip. Hung wide from his outside post, he raced three wide into the first turn and then four wide into the second turn - yet only lost by four lengths to a talented colt in Golden Mexico.

Finishing only 2 1/2 lengths in front of him was Affirmatif, a highly regarded Todd Pletcher-trained colt who would subsequently win the Woodlawn Stakes at Pimlico on grass before running second in the Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont in a race taken off the turf.

As for Rescue Squad's layoff of two months coming into the Colonial Turf Cup, it seems insignificant. He ran twice in two weeks in early April and likely needed a freshening, and with so much money on the line in the Colonial Turf Cup, it seems reasonable to expect him to be cranked for his return.

He also won his debut last fall off works, so he gives every impression of a horse that can get fit and ready off training alone.

All Along: Pace should suit I Lost My Choo

A race earlier on the Colonial card is the Grade 3 All Along for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on grass, and it, like the Colonial Turf Cup, drew a large, attractive betting field.

My choice is I Lost My Choo, who has to carry high weight of 124 pounds. The weight is a hindrance, but she is proven over the course and is in sharp form.

A winner of 7 of 12 starts, she is a filly at her best when she gets some pace in front of her. It allows her to relax and launch a powerful late run.

She appears to have caught that pace setup in the All Along. Longshots Julia Tuttle and Precious Princess are accustomed to racing on or near the lead and are likely to provide I Lost My Choo with the realistic fractions she needs to be at her best.

She is a solid play if she sticks to her 5-2 morning-line price and is worthy of keying in the exotics.

Red Legend: It Happened Again offers value

Lastly, handicappers will want to take a long look at the card at Charles Town on Saturday night. The card has four stakes, including the $250,000 Red Legend Stakes.

The latter race drew none other than Big Drama, who went head to head with Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness before fading to fifth.

An earner of more than $923,000, he is undoubtedly the horse to beat. But coming out of a race that virtually no one missed, he will be no bargain at the betting windows. At 8-5 on the morning line, he could drop even lower by post time.

A value-oriented alternative is It Happened Again, a 10-1 outsider on the morning line. This is a colt that "paired up" Beyer Speed Figures in the low 90s in his latest - a positive signal - and he is proven over a bullring, having won at Delta Downs earlier in his career as Big Drama also did.

Drawn in post 2, he is positioned to get a better trip than many of his opponents and save ground early - one of the keys to success at a track like Charles Town with tight turns.