11/24/2005 12:00AM

She Says It Best a short-memory play


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It's not often that short memories are rewarded, but Saturday's closing-day card at Churchill Downs may provide an exception. Those that can "forget" the last-race performances of the principal contenders in the Grade 2 Golden Rod may be in a position to cash.

I like an established class horse, She Says It Best, to rebound off a ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, believing she can defeat French Park and Sabatini, two gifted but lightly raced fillies.

I'm hopeful that is a minority opinion. The Golden Rod is loaded with speed, seemingly putting the front-running She Says It Best at a disadvantage. And among some handicappers I know, She Says It Best is regarded as a phony Grade 2 winner, having won the Alcibiades wire to wire on a Keeneland strip that was biased toward early speed.

I am not ready to call her phony - at least not yet. She beat a legitimate field in the Alcibiades - better than the stock that French Park edged in winning the Pocahontas Stakes - and one bad race in the Breeders' Cup doesn't make her a bad horse.

Consider the history of Breeders' Cup competitors in the Golden Rod. In checking the results going back to 1992 - the year Beyer Speed Figures began being published in Daily Racing Form - 7 of the 13 most-recent winners of this race came out of the Breeders' Cup.

Four of those seven bounced back from off-the-board finishes in the Breeders' Cup to win the Golden Rod - just as She Says It Best tries to do. Lilly Capote returned from a fifth-place finish to win the 1994 Golden Rod; City Band won the 1996 Golden Rod after a 10th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup; Love Lock won the 1997 race after a ninth-place finish in Breeders' Cup; and Be Gentle bounced back from an 11th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup to take the 2003 Golden Rod. Interestingly, D. Wayne Lukas trained all those winners.

Although She Says It Best does not have Lukas in her corner - Vickie Foley trains her - She Says It Best does share similarities with those fillies, particularly Be Gentle. Be Gentle had won the Alcibiades in front-running fashion before getting discouraged when beaten to the lead in the Breeders' Cup. Matched against easier in the Golden Rod, she led gate to wire.

As for the unbeaten French Park, I'll try to beat her - although I respect her talent. In taking the Pocahontas, she made the successful leap from maiden into stakes company, but is untested racing two turns and still appears to be learning how to run to her full potential.

When she won the Pocahontas on Nov. 5, winning jockey Mark Guidry said he was pleased with her effort, while noting that he was worried she might get caught in the late stages.

"I was concerned because she stayed pretty even down the lane," he said. "She switched over [leads] and picked it up just a tad, but from that point on she more or less stayed even."

Working in her favor is the fact that she has shown the versatility to win on the lead and from off the pace. That gives Guidry options in a speed-laden Golden Rod.

Keep in mind, though, that Pocahontas winners are just 1-1-2 in from 9 starters this race since 1992 - with the lone winner, At the Half, scoring at 2-5 odds in 1993.

High Cotton the pick in the KJC

In the other big race for 2-year-olds at Churchill Saturday, the Kentucky Jockey Club, I'll play High Cotton, who was a brave runner-up in the Iroquois Nov. 5. In a field loaded with pace, he took off running in the early stages, not settling quite as effectively as his jockey, Javier Castellano, said he would have liked.

But when victorious Catcomin-atcha darted inside of him in the stretch, this horse bravely fought that rival. Beaten a neck in a game performance, he has a right to move forward off that race.

Catcominatcha should be tough once again, as should Grade 2 Futurity winner Private Vow, who was eased in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after having a rein break on the backstretch. But High Cotton, with Robby Albarado picking up the mount, may have the most room for improvement.