02/22/2013 1:41PM

Steve Klein: Odds dictate Double the Energy the play in Ladies Turf Sprint

Tom Keyser
Stopshoppingmaria (left) has recently twice disappointed bettors at short odds and may be worth taking a stance against in the Ladies Turf Sprint at Gulfstream.

Stopshoppingmaria is the filly to beat in the five-furlong Ladies Turf Sprint on Sunday at Gulfstream, but she might not be the filly to bet.

She has been consistent with three wins and three second-place finishes from her last seven races. Two of those victories were earned in her only previous races on the Gulfstream turf course and at the same distance. Stopshoppingmaria should be sharp, since those wins were earned in her two most recent races, with her last start made about five weeks ago.

Stopshoppingmaria owns the highest career Beyer Speed Figure, a 101 earned in her maiden win two years ago at Saratoga, and is the only member of her field who shows a Grade 1 stakes placing, her second in the Frizette in 2011. She also finished second in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The catch is that Stopshoppingmaria usually attracts lots of betting support. She was favored at 4-5, 8-5, a shade less than 2-5, and even money in her last four races. She lost two of them. While she is the most likely winner, there are other contenders in the field whose recent form is good enough to give them a chance to beat her.

Double the Energy also is 2 for 2 at five furlongs on the Gulfstream turf course, and, like her rival, she earned those wins in her last two starts. While her 2011 form doesn’t match up with the best races run by Stopshoppingmaria, her last two wins are just as good as, if not better than, those of Stopshoppingmaria. Factor in what should be a higher price, and I’m willing to give her the call as my selection to win.

Whipsaw City finished third, three-quarters of a length behind Double the Energy last time. The difference is that Whipsaw City was lucky to be saving ground on the rail when a huge hole opened up in front of her turning for home. Double the Energy had to rally three wide in the four path and also was going stronger at the finish than Whipsaw City was. If Double the Energy and Whipsaw City are at comparable odds, I prefer Double the Energy. Nevertheless, if Whipsaw City is overlooked, she can add betting value to the exotics. She turned in a nice 48-second breeze at Palm Meadows since her last race and can improve in the second start of her form cycle.

I will bet Double the Energy to win and use her on top of Stopshoppingmaria in the exacta. I also will box Double the Energy and Whipsaw City in the exacta, just in case Whipsaw City is ready to step it up a notch in this race.

Island Fashion: Plan B is Fraudulentfootnote

Branding would be very hard to beat if she runs in the one-mile Island Fashion at Sunland Park, but she is expected to run at Santa Anita on Sunday, rather than going in the race at Sunland.

In that case Fraudulentfootnote, who ran an improved race last time at Sunland, would deserve the call in the Island Fashion. She rallied six wide to finish second behind a dominant winner in a 6 1/2-furlong stakes at Sunland, and was 4 1/2 lengths clear of third. She can defeat this field if she matches that form in her first route race.

Countess Curlin graduated in a one-mile maiden special at Retama, then repeated in an allowance race at that distance at Sam Houston. She deserves respect for being the only contender in the field proven at Sunday’s race distance.

Challenging graduated at Sunland by 7 3/4 lengths in a 6 1/2-furlong race in her debut, with Fraudulentfootnote second. She disappointed when she finished a non-threatening fourth, two positions, and seven lengths behind that same opponent in her next race. She will need a return to top form to contend as she stretches out.

I will bet Fraudulentfootnote to win, and key her on top in the exacta over Countess Curlin and Challenging.

◗ The Sensational Star is a restricted stakes at Santa Anita going 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill on turf. The race is wide open, so I will encourage you to look beyond the favorites when you construct your wagers. My top four selections are A Toast to You, Cat Talk, Starspangled Heat, and Circa’sgoldengear. I will bet the horse from this group who offers the highest odds to win.