11/12/2009 12:00AM

Striking Dancer offers a price in Mrs. Revere

Photos By Z/Keeneland
Hot Cha Cha, winner of the QEII Challenge Cup, will be one of the favorites in the Mrs. Revere.

NEW YORK - It's Breeders' Cup Day for Florida-breds on Saturday, with the Florida Million Day card at Calder Race Course of eight statebred stakes worth a total of $1.2 million. There also are two graded events on Saturday's schedule: the Grade 2, $175,000 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Grade 2, $150,000 Autumn Stakes at Woodbine.

Mrs. Revere Stakes

With 14 in the main body of the race, not to mention three also-eligibles, this race has the potential of being a wild betting race. Certainly, Hot Cha Cha, who last time out made the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup her second straight graded stakes score, will take some beating here. So, too, will Bluegrass Princess, winner of the first division of Keeneland's Valley View Stakes most recently, and Miss Keller, who was beaten just a head in the second and faster division of the Valley View. But the virtues of these three figure to be plainly obvious to the betting public, and who wants to settle for just an okay price in a wide-open contest like this?

Not me. Obviously, I want a horse who I think is coming up to a big effort. But in a situation like this, I also want to be well compensated for my risk. I think Striking Dancer fits the bill on both counts.

On the surface, Striking Dancer looks like she might be overmatched. She has never won a stakes, and her win last time out only came in a second-level allowance race. That will surely help boost her price, but I think there's more to Striking Dancer's profile than first meets the eye.

Striking Dancer showed real potential last year, recording a runaway maiden win and a gaining second in an overnight stakes on this turf course. And she ran big winning her first start this year, a tough allowance race at Gulfstream in which she beat the aforementioned Bluegrass Princess.

Something went wrong, and Striking Dancer did not race again until Saratoga. When she returned in an overnight stakes there, she wound up setting the pace, which is absolutely not her preferred running style. There also is reason to overlook her next race as it was an off-the-turfer at Keeneland. But last time out, Striking Dancer got back on turf and got back to the closing style that works best for her. She proceeded to blow 11 opponents off the track.

Sure, Striking Dancer might be meeting tougher company than what she crushed last time. But it is important to note that in her last win, Striking Dancer buried a bunch of older opponents. She's now moving back in against members of her own age group, and that's a very positive move, even at this time of year. Moreover, Striking Dancer looks like she's only begun to find her best form, whereas some of her more accomplished opponents might have topped out for the moment.

Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap

This is one of the Florida Million Day stakes, and it attracted my attention because I think it has a vulnerable favorite in Jessica Is Back. Okay, maybe it's nuts to say Jessica Is Back is vulnerable, because her trainer, Marty Wolfson, is winning with only 60 percent of his starters at the meet. But when Jessica Is Back earned a huge 111 Beyer Speed Figure three starts back, it was in the slop, and I'm always skeptical of big figures earned in the slop. And the 100 Beyer that Jessica Is Back got last time out is one she might regress on as it looks like she had a hard race off a bit of a layoff.

I like Sweet Repent, an improving 3-year-old who won her last two races, both by noses, over sharp opponents with the rest of the field finishing far back. Last time out, Sweet Repent edged another sharp Wolfson trainee in Royal Card, and two starts back she nipped Spirit Seeker, who came back to win her next two starts with Beyers of 96 and 103.

Autumn Stakes

Here's another race where you can make a case for any one of a handful of horses, but I like Pool Play, who is going for his third straight victory after just beating some of the strongest members of this field last time out in the Durham Cup.

Pool Play was cut out to be a good horse. He sold for $625,000 as a yearling, more than 20 times his sire's stud fee, and that's usually a strong tip off that the horse in question at least looks like a real athlete. In any case, Pool Play took some time to find himself, but after being away from April to late August, it looks like he's finally arrived. He won his first start back and then in the Durham Cup, he ran past a tough pair in Ice Bear, who has since won, and Palladio. But because Pool Play's victory that day was an 11-1 upset, there is a good chance the betting public will still be skeptical of him, meaning that even with the best last race in the field, he could still be a very nice price.