04/07/2005 12:00AM

Summerly offers more betting value than Sis City


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - If Saturday's Ashland Stakes at Keeneland is a fair representation of what the 3-year-old filly picture will be like if Sweet Catomine races with the boys in the weeks ahead, then by all means, I hope she runs well in the Santa Anita Derby and moves on to the Kentucky Derby.

Take Sweet Catomine out of the 3-year-old filly picture, and contention runs deep. That is evident in the Ashland, which drew arguably three or four of the top 10 3-year-old fillies in the country.

There is Sis City, a 16-length winner of the Davona Dale Stakes in her last start; Summerly, a dual graded winner who was all the rage in New Orleans this winter; Runway Model, winner of the Alcibiades last fall at Keeneland; and Sharp Lisa, winner of the Grade 1 Las Virgenes on Feb. 12.

I expect Sis City will start as the favorite - which may at least create palatable odds on Summerly, who has been the chalk in each of her last three starts.

I don't see a hole in Sis City - just little value. On the heels of a dominant victory and Stonerside buying 75 percent of the filly for a figure reported to be in the $2 million range, she seems likely to captivate the attention of horseplayers.

Meanwhile, Summerly might be viewed as potentially vulnerable by some - after leading wire to wire in the Fair Grounds Oaks after setting a soft opening half-mile in 49.04 seconds. But I have little doubt that she would have won that race just as easily if she had gone a half in 48 seconds, if not faster. She was simply better than her opponents.

Summerly is the play in the Ashland.

Two-year-old specialists

Looking for notable trainer statistics to put to wagering use during the spring Keeneland meet? Consider the following:

Since 2000, four trainers have combined to win 30 of Keeneland's 61 races for 2-year-olds. Ronny Werner led the way by training nine first-out winners from 20 starters, and was followed by a trio of trainers with seven juvenile winners apiece: Steve Asmussen, D. Wayne Lukas, and Todd Pletcher.

Werner's babies were most successful in 2001 and 2002 - during a period when he trained a number of horses for owner Tom Durant - winning with eight juveniles over that two-year stretch. He also scored with a 2-year-old last year, the Ken and Sarah Ramsey-owned Lisa's Cat, who paid $10.60 for winning at first asking.

Werner also successfully debuted eventual graded stakes winner Badge of Silver at Keeneland for the Ramseys in the spring of 2002, among others.

Asmussen dominated the 2-year-old races at Keeneland last spring, going 13-3-4-4 with first-time starters. Lunarpal became his 2-year-old star, sweeping the spring stakes program at Churchill Downs after winning first out at Keeneland.

Several times Asmussen ran more than one juvenile in a maiden race. Twice his runners ran one-two, and another time they ran one-three.

His most precocious juveniles are typically those owned by Bill Heiligbrodt of Heiligbrodt Racing Stable. Heiligbrodt has owned all but one of Asmussen's seven spring juvenile winners.

Other trainers with more than one spring juvenile winner at Keeneland since 2000 include Larry Demeritte, Mark Hubley, Dallas Stewart, and Ken McPeek. They have won two juvenile races apiece.

McPeek's maidens usually ready

Over the past two spring meets, McPeek was hottest in maiden races for 3-year-olds, winning seven such races, usually with horses who had prepped at Gulfstream Park. Stewart won five races, Werner and Nick Zito three races apiece, and Asmussen and Mark Frostad two each. These trainers are based in either Florida or Louisiana during the winter.

They had their maidens ready to peak at Keeneland, where purses are roughly $20,000 more than at Gulfstream or Fair Grounds - provided a horse is Kentucky-bred.

The 20 percent club

Which trainers' horses regularly outperform expectations at Keeneland? In checking Daily Racing Form records from 2000-2004, I found 15 trainers who had won at a 20-percent clip while showing a favorable return on investment. This list below is limited to trainers with at least four victories, and includes results from the spring and fall meets at Keeneland.

In order of ROI, the 15 were as follows:

TrainerWin %ROI
Becky Maker26$4.86
J.R. Smith Jr.444.73
Don Von Hemel364.40
Graham Motion363.12
John Kimmel242.95
Neil Drysdale262.86
Greg Foley212.81
Tom Proctor212.65
Tom Amoss202.63
Don Winfree282.56
Bill Million202.36
Neil Howard262.26
Mark Hennig262.15
Bobby Frankel372.08
Chuck Simon202.04