01/11/2010 12:00AM

Three live alternatives to favorites


NEW YORK - The 2010 Gulfstream Park meet got off to an impressive start last Sunday, when Quality Road won the opening-day feature, and continues Saturday with five stakes on a 10-race card. Three of the five stakes are Grade 3 events: the Old Hat, the Mr. Prospector, and the Sugar Swirl, which used to be called the First Lady Stakes. Those three events, along with the Spectacular Bid Stakes, are each worth $100,000. The Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint is worth $75,000.

Meanwhile, at Santa Anita, there is a stakes doubleheader consisting of the Grade 2, $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap and the $65,000 Paseana Handicap.

Spectacular Bid Stakes

I have mixed feelings about probable favorite Discreetly Mine. I was taken with him when he notched his maiden win in his third career start and after his game second in the Futurity following a less-than-smooth trip. But I soured on Discreetly Mine after his most recent effort in the . Even though Discreetly Mine finished a close second, I thought he had no business losing what was not a strong renewal of that Grade 1 event. He might still own a big class edge in this spot and could well win for that reason. But when you're ambivalent about a probable favorite, it is a sign to look elsewhere.

Wildcat Frankie will be the most popular wagering alternative to Discreetly Mine, but if he wins, he'll beat me. Wildcat Frankie did win his only start by 15 1/2 lengths, earning a Beyer Figure of 95. Maybe he's a budding superstar. But who knows what, if anything, Wildcat Frankie was beating in that maiden race at Calder. I do know he'll be facing much tougher Saturday while offering zero betting value.

Call Shot's company lines in his second and third starts make him intriguing enough to take him for the upset here. In his second start, which came at Arlington, Call Shot notched a decisive maiden win over American Lion. If that name sounds familiar, it should. American Lion came back in his two subsequent starts to win a maiden race at Keeneland with a 90 Beyer and the with an 83 Beyer.

In his third start, an allowance race at Keeneland, Call Shot narrowly missed to Liston, but Liston was later disqualified from the purse money, giving Call Shot the official win. Liston had earlier won his debut at Saratoga in one of those Saturday 2-year-old maiden races there that so often prove to be the sources of big talent.

While Call Shot fits here on company lines, I have no idea if he is as effective on dirt, which he runs on Saturday, as he was on the synthetic tracks in Chicago and Kentucky. After all, Call Shot did not run particularly well in his one try on dirt last time out, when he was sixth in the . But in his defense, Call Shot might have been too close to a strong early pace in the Iroquois, which was run on a deep track, and he will be a big enough price Saturday to make it worth taking a risk on whether he truly handles dirt.

Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint

Hockeythehayman and T. D. Vance are the two favorites on the morning line, and either is capable of winning. But the field Hockeythehayman walloped last time out at Keenelend to stretch his undefeated streak to four was not as good as this one. And while

T. D. Vance deserves credit for gamely prevailing in both of his starts after spending nearly two years on the sideline, it is reasonable to think that after two gut-wrenching efforts, this 8-year-old is susceptible to a regression.

I like Hatfield. I like that he won turf sprints in his first two starts on the surface when he returned from a layoff last fall, and I think he can be the speed of the speed here if he wants to be. But I really like Hatfield's good, if surprising, third most recently in the . The Fall Highweight has since proved to be a very productive race. The two who finished in front of Hatfield - Cherokee Country and Greenspring - came right back to win the Valley Forge at Philadelphia Park with a 102 Beyer and the Native Dancer at Laurel with a 100 Beyer. Ah Day, who finished behind Hatfield when fifth in the Fall Highweight, came right back to win an optional claimer at Laurel with a 101 Beyer.

Paseana Handicap

If Silver Swallow and Floating Heart duplicate the 97 and 95 Beyers they earned last time out, when they finished second and fourth in the , they'll run one-two here. I'm not betting on it, however. I'm skeptical of that whole bunch coming out of the Bayakoa. Silver Swallow still has almost four times as many seconds and thirds as victories on her record, bringing her will to win into question. Floating Heart was no world beater before transferring west.

And look at Made for Magic, who also ran in the Bayakoa. She was even-money in an overnight race in her start after the Bayakoa. She opened a big lead in midstretch and couldn't hold on.

This is a good spot for a new face, and St Trinians fits the bill. Both of St Trinians's starts in the U.S. - her outing over the Santa Anita surface last March and her comeback at Hollywood last month - were overwhelming scores very much in the manner of a horse bound for stakes success.