08/27/2006 11:00PM

Spa Stakes Play for Monday


Speed figures are not much help in deciphering today's difficult featured Rumpipumpy Stakes for older grass fillies. Nine of the 10 entrants sports a career-best Beyer in the narrow 86-to-92 band with most clustered in the middle of that range.

A class-based approach may be more helpful, and the key may be seeing who has been running against legitimate stakes horses. The race is restricted to fillies who "have not won an open sweepstakes on the turf in 2006." You could get rid of the "open" part and the "on turf" part and all 10 starters would still qualify. If you lose the "in 2006," only two would no longer be eligible: favored Safari Queen, a stakes winner in Argentina over a year ago, and Marchonin, who took a $40k stakes at Calder the day after Christmas, meaning she squeezed into eligibility for this race by five days.

So I like her, but not just for that reason. Marchonin is also the only entrant exiting a graded stakes race, a better-than-it-looks fifth in the Matchmaker, and she also ran a good third to Ready's Gal and Amorama at Tampa this winter. Either of those fillies would be 2-to-5 in this spot. Finally, she gets the rail on the inner turf course and Cornelio Velasquez, neither of which hurts.

I'll bet Marchonin (1) at anything close to her morning-line odds of 6-1, play some exactas with the other key contenders with stakes credentials - turnbacking Pyrana(6), Safari Queen(9) and 20-1 Half Heaven(10) -- and make some tris hitting the all button for third because most of these are so closely-matched on paper that I wouldn't be surprised by a six-way photo for third where 20-1 shots are as likely as 4-1 shots. So the play for each $201 looks like this:

$8 exacta partwheel: 1/ 6,9,10= $24

$4 exacta partwheel: 6,9,10/1= $12

$4 exacta partwheel: 1/ 4,8,11= $12

$2 exacta partwheel 4,8,11/1= $12

$2 exacta box: 6,9,10= $12

$1 exacta partwheel: 6,9,10/4,8,11= $ 9

$1 trifecta partwheel: 1/6,9,10/all= $24

$1 trifecta partwheel: 6,9,10/1/all= $24

$1 trifecta partwheel: 6,9,10/all/1= $24

$2 trifecta box: 1/6/9,10= $24

$1 trifecta box: 1,6,9,10= $24