01/11/2007 12:00AM

Tarlet won't have it easy


Led by Tarlet, who fires just about every time, an interesting array of nine older horses will line up for the $100,000 Native Dancer at Laurel Park on Saturday.

A solid case can be made for at least five in this one-mile scramble, and none of the other four is totally without hope.

Reckless Ways comes in with the top last-out Beyer Speed Figure (95) and four other Beyers in 2006 that are even higher. He won 6 of 9 starts last year, and his trainer, Edmond Gaudet, excels at the move Reckless Ways is making here, going from a sprint to a route.

In the past five years, Gaudet has saddled 16 winners from 52 stretch-outs, 31 percent, for an average return of $2.38 per $2 bet.

Reckless Ways also gets Gaudet's go-to rider, Rosie Napravnik. As a team they've won with 22 of their last 68 starters, for a $2.63 ROI.

Your Bluffing has competitive Beyers and stretches out for trainer Michael Trombetta, who also excels at that move. Trombetta's five-year record with sprint-to-route starters is 39 percent winners and a 2.73 ROI.

As a team, Trombetta and Your Bluffing's rider, Jose Caraballo, win at a 32 percent clip with a $3.93 ROI.

City Attraction ships in and steps up for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. off a sneaky-good second in a optional claimer on Dec. 14 at Aqueduct. The race was sneaky good because the horse City Attraction lost to, by a neck, is Half Ours, an undefeated 4-year-old who was auctioned in November for a cool $6.1 million.

Judiths Wild Rush hasn't won since June but has run four of his last six races in graded stakes, and should appreciate the drop.

Tarlet looks best, if by a slight margin, based on his competitive Beyers and consistency (5 wins, 5 seconds, and 1 third in 12 starts in 2006). This will be his first start since a second as the favorite in the $75,000 Jennings at Laurel Dec. 6. But trainer Ronald Alfano has a high win percentage (14 wins from 51 starters) and a positive ROI ($2.44) with 31-to-60-day layoffs the past five years.

Easy Red upset the Jennings at 13-1 and cannot be tossed, though his trainer, James Murphy, shows a negative return with horses coming off a victory.

Baby League has some competitive figures and three wins in his last nine starts. But he's going to be far back early and Reckless Ways is a superior deep closer.

Trapped Again has raced just once in the past 13 months, finishing off the board with an 86 Beyer. But before he was sidelined, he ran four Beyers in the 99-109 range.

My Dream, a turf horse whose dirt record isn't bad, is the outsider.