03/14/2010 11:00PM

She Be Wild a dicey play on dirt


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - On Saturday I'll be betting a champion will be defeated. It's just not either of the two who come quickest to mind.

Victories appear probable for Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds, and also for Zenyatta in the Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita.

But another Eclipse Award winner, She Be Wild, the outstanding juvenile filly of 2009, appears vulnerable in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs.

I see her vulnerable to the late charge of Diva Delite, who looms an attractive wager if she stays close to her 4-1 morning-line odds for the Oaks, a 1 1/16-mile dirt race.

Unlike She Be Wild, who is still seeking to establish her form on dirt, Diva Delite is a proven commodity on dirt, including at Tampa Bay Downs. A daughter of Repent, she has won her last six dirt races, and her only two losses since late-September have come on the grass.

The biggest of those victories were in the Gasparilla Stakes and Suncoast Stakes over the Tampa strip.

Although her Gasparilla triumph was impressive, it was her recent victory in the Suncoast that left me feeling she is a graded-stakes-caliber filly. Breaking from the outside post with a short run to the first turn in the mile and 40-yard race, she was shuffled back early and hung four wide virtually from start to finish.

Despite little pace developing in front of her, she had little trouble catching the front-runners, surging to the lead in midstretch and coasting late.

Granted, she didn't beat remarkable competition, but in a race she had every right to lose because of a wide trip, she proved her quality.

As for She Be Wild, her lone dirt start was far less auspicious. Racing at Gulfstream in the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes on Jan. 31 in her first race since winning the Nov. 6 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, she ran an even fifth, beaten 9 1/2 lengths by Bickersons going seven furlongs.

I expect an improved effort from her in the Florida Oaks, though not a win. The Forward Gal was her first start of the year, a race she very well may have needed, and trainer Wayne Catalano excels with stretch-out runners and runners making their second start off a layoff.

But until She Be Wild establishes she can handle dirt, her reputation will probably make her an underlay at the betting windows.

Diva Delite, with her modest Florida pedigree and past claiming form, may continue to slip past the public to some extent.

Schoolyard Dreams can pull upset

Two races later on the Tampa card, the 3-year-old boys are headlined in the Tampa Bay Derby, which features Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club winner Super Saver returning against the likes of Uptowncharlybrown and Odysseus, both of whom are 2 for 3.

Taking into account expected mutuel value, I prefer Schoolyard Dreams as a price play. He has victories in two-turn races and was second to Rule in the Sam F. Davis last month at Tampa.

Since then, he has trained lights out for trainer Derek Ryan, who trained Musket Man to win this race last year.

With Super Saver potentially vulnerable in his first start of the year, Schoolyard Dreams could be poised to match his stablemate's accomplishment in this race.

Cicada: Romantic Hideaway will fire

Turning north to Aqueduct, Romantic Hideaway is the value play of the Grade 3 Cicada on the inner track.

Working in her favor is a cutback from seven furlongs to six furlongs in the Cicada. She is 2 for 2 at the distance, including a two-length victory in the Brandywine Stakes at Philadelphia Park in her final start of 2009.

In her two wins at six furlongs, she drew the rail, also her post in the Cicada. And in those victories, jockey Mario Pino took a strong hold of her leaving the gate, giving her a target behind horses, which she seemed to enjoy.

With a similar trip likely in the Cicada, expect a much stronger effort than the one she gave in the Forward Gal, in which she was a wide fourth behind Bickersons on Jan. 31.

Romantic Hideaway seemed to bounce in the Forward Gal off her career-best performance in the Brandywine. With about 1 1/2 months off since then, she should return to her best.

In contrast, Bickersons, the 7-5 morning-line favorite, is wheeled back on short rest after fading to fourth behind Amen Hallelujah in the one-mile Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 27.