03/04/2004 12:00AM

Short odds, but still worth a look


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - I suppose, like most simulcast horseplayers, I will have one eye glued to the Santa Anita feed and another to the Gulfstream signal Saturday.

The two tracks have staged some excellent Saturday cards. Santa Anita's program is a blockbuster, with the Santa Anita Handicap, the San Rafael, and the Frank Kilroe Mile all taking place. Gulfstream also has an attractive Saturday program, with the Bonnie Miss and Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Handicap being the main events.

Although the Santa Anita races deserve top billing Saturday, the Gulfstream races may also prove worth playing. Here is a quick look at the contenders in each Gulfstream stakes race, and what I consider to be bettable odds. Small fields in the two stakes figure to keep the odds short.

The Bonnie Miss

Society Selection (6-5): She performed well in the paceless Davona Dale to finish third, beaten a neck. She grew too eager when rated on the inside behind a slow pace, and after tussling with Jerry Bailey down the backstretch, she did not quite have her customary stretch punch. Her freshness in that race likely contributed to her troubles. She is a classy filly, as she demonstrated in winning the Grade 1 Frizette. She should also move forward in her second start off a layoff, and, drawn outside, Bailey should be able to keep her happy in the clear.

Last Song (5-2): In last month's Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream, she ran as well as a horse can perform without hitting the board. She finished fourth, a half-length behind Miss Coronado and a neck behind third-place Society Selection. Although a bit flat in the final eighth, she should finish stronger with more time between races.

Rare Gift (6-1): Although she has not run Beyer Speed Figures that match those of Last Song and Society Selection, she has run quickly from a raw time standpoint. Last month, when she ran on the same Feb. 7 card as the Grade 2 Davona Dale, Rare Gift easily won a 1 1/8-mile allowance in 1:50.89. By contrast, Miss Coronado won the 1 1/16-mile Davona Dale in 1:44.62. If Miss Coronado had run another sixteenth in a little over 6 seconds, their times for 1 1/8 miles would have been very similar. Putting aside the time, Rare Gift proved her class in her preceding start, placing third to eventual Davona Dale runner-up Eye Dazzler. She likely bled in that race, too. She was treated with Lasix for the first time in her Feb. 7 allowance victory. On paper, she figures to get a great front-running trip, but Gulfstream routes have played to closers for the most part.

The Richter Scale

Valid Video (9-5): He looms a deserving favorite, mostly because of the absence of such sprinters as Cajun Beat and Alke, who are being pointed toward the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on Mar. 27. I like the spacing that trainer Dennis Manning has mapped out for him. This horse excels when running fresh. Unraced since finishing third in the Jan. 24 Sunshine Millions Sprint, he should be primed for one of his best races, and his best is quite good - he won the Grade 1 King's Bishop at seven furlongs last year.

Gygistar (4-1): He was an outstanding 3-year-old, but in six starts since winning the King's Bishop in 2002, he has managed just one win, which came in an allowance. He had an excuse for a fourth in the Feb. 7 Deputy Minister. He broke slowly from the rail and had to check to avoid running up on the heels of the leaders as they established a slow pace.

Lion Tamer (9-2): He did everything right in his 4-year-old bow Jan. 28, easily handling three-other-than allowance runners in a successful prep. Although untested against older stakes opponents, he illustrated his quality last year with a win in the seven-furlong Hutcheson, one of the nation's best sprints for 3-year-olds. He also loves Gulfstream, having gone 3 for 3 there.