02/21/2008 1:00AM

Swingit would relish less-than-firm turf


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Late last month, when Fair Grounds staged a turf stakes for fillies and mares, the Marie G. Krantz Memorial Handicap, the weather influenced the result. Pounded by heavy rain, the track transferred the race from turf to a sloppy dirt course, benefiting the versatile Autobahn Girl, who besides being a stakes winner on dirt had also won a race in the mud earlier in her career.

Again this Saturday, Mother Nature may go a long way toward determining the winner of the featured race at Fair Grounds, the Bayou Handicap. Rain was forecast in New Orleans for Thursday and Friday, meaning that in all likelihood, Saturday's race will not be run over a firm course, if it is run on the turf at all.

With the weather outlook for Saturday looking more promising - forecasts call for partly cloudy skies - I am handicapping the race with the expectation that it will probably be run on the grass course, but one with plenty of give.

Such a scenario would play to the strength of former European runner Just Little - but she reportedly will be scratched. That sets up the race for Swingit, a Victory Gallop filly who is skilled on firm turf, but most effective over soft ground. In two starts over "good" and "yielding" surfaces last year, she recorded a pair of victories, including as a 7-1 outsider in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day.

Fourth in the Marie G. Krantz recently, Swingit ran deceptively well given how the race unfolded without pace. Remaining within touch of the leaders early - not her desired running style - she stayed even-paced in the stretch to lose by 3 1/4 lengths to Autobahn Girl.

You should see a dramatically better effort on turf. She can sit back and make a powerful late run, just the kind of style she employed in winning the Furl Sail earlier in the meet.

Adding to Swingit's appeal, she is making her third start off a layoff, which often results in a peak performance.

If the Bayou comes off the turf, just as the Krantz Memorial did, then the race would become less appealing from a wagering perspective. I could envision a couple of scratches from the seven-horse field, and Autobahn Girl would become a deserving but short-priced favorite following her off-the-turf stakes victory last month.

Gulfstream: Shamdinan may offer value

Saturday's Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Turf Stakes provides an opportunity to play an accomplished but underappreciated runner in Shamdinan.

Despite being a millionaire, a Grade 1 winner, and a horse coming off a runner-up finish in the BC Turf, he's a horse that has never fully captured the public's attention. In all four of his starts in the United States since coming here from France, he has gone off at odds of 9-2 or higher, including in the Breeders' Cup, when he was dismissed at 25-1.

More than likely Shamdinan's lack of mutuel support is related to the inconsistency he has shown over his last six races, and also, his apparent preference for soft turf courses.

When he won the Grade 1 Secretariat last summer, he did so over "good" turf. And his second in the Breeders' Cup came over a boggy course at Monmouth that many horses failed to handle.

Irrespective of the conditions at Monmouth that day, running second to English Channel in the Breeders' Cup - ahead of such notable horses as Red Rocks, Better Talk Now, and Dylan Thomas - should command respect.

A hit-or-miss history from Shamdinan does not make him a standout in the Gulfstream Turf, but if he is his morning line price of 4-1 or higher, he is a worthwhile play.

Laurel: Try to Remember a price play

In terms of value, one of the best stakes plays of the weekend is Try to Remember in the Maryland Racing Media Handicap at Laurel Park. A 4-year-old Include filly, she could be overlooked in a race in which stablemate Cryptoquip should attract more of the public's wagering support.

Although Cryptoquip appears formidable - as does Take a Check - Try to Remember acts like a quality filly in her own right, and she might have more room to improve than some of her older, more experienced counterparts.

Coming off a third-place finish in the five-horse Ride Sally Stakes over Aqueduct's inner track Feb. 2, the betting public may underestimate her a bit. But Try to Remember really had no chance to win that race when it unfolded with a dawdling pace.

She is capable of better Saturday - at what should be a square price.