06/13/2007 11:00PM

Three offer an exotic coup in Regret


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Churchill Downs saved the best for last on Saturday's Stephen Foster Day.

Although some of the earlier races are filled with quality on the 11-race card, which includes six stakes races, it is the last race on the card, the Regret Stakes, that shows the most potential for a blowup payoff in the exotics.

A deep race with 11 entrants, it offers the possibility for a rewarding payoff in great part because of the vulnerability of the two morning-line favorites, Dreaming of Anna and High Heels. Dreaming of Anna, the champion juvenile filly of last year, has not performed at as high of a level this year, and High Heels is unraced on turf and has just a 254 Tomlinson grass rating.

The horses I like are all 12-1 shots on the morning line. Sans Reward rates as my top choice, making her third start off a layoff for high-percentage trainer Wally Dollase. You Go West Girl, coming off an eye-catching first-level allowance win May 19, is my second selection. And Dawn After Dawn, who ran fourth in the Kentucky Oaks but is also proven on grass, is my third pick.

All three are talented fillies with established turf form. They just don't have the "names" of Dreaming of Anna and High Heels.

What makes Sans Reward an attractive top choice? For starters, she showed promise overseas. Last year, racing in the Group 2 May Hill Stakes at York, she showed speed before fading to third late behind Simply Perfect, a filly who came out of the race to take a Group 1 at Ascot.

Admittedly, Sans Reward did not run as well in her other European races, but her inconsistency might be attributed to catching wet ground. She was most effective on good to firm going over there, but struggled on soft turf.

As for her two starts in the United States, they have been good, not great. She ran a close fifth in the Appalachian Stakes behind Audacious Chloe in her seasonal debut, and then was third against a nice group of older fillies at Churchill on May 26.

Now in her third start off a layoff, she is being tested by Dollase, encouragingly, in graded company, rather than being brought back more conservatively in an allowance. Dollase has not lost faith in her despite her two defeats in America. I'm not discounting her, either.

You Go West Girl, first or second in all three of her starts, impressively won a first-level allowance on turf May 19 despite lacking turf and route experience. She rated like a seasoned mare and kicked on strongly from the back of the pack to win going away. She has considerable upset potential, but drawn on the far outside, a wide trip could loom.

As for Dawn After Dawn, she ran fourth, beaten 11 lengths by Rags to Riches, in the Kentucky Oaks - a race that is even better than it looks on paper. She ran into some traffic trouble at the top of the stretch, and she likely would have been closer with a clean trip.

Returned to turf, a surface on which she won two races and placed three other times, she ought to be a major force.

All three merit play in the exactas and trifectas, as well as the multi-race gimmicks

Inca King has the potential

Midway on the Saturday card at Churchill, the six stakes races get started with the Jefferson Cup in race 6.

Dual graded winner Duveen is the one to beat for obvious reasons. He is the most accomplished entrant and owns the top Beyer Speed Figures.

What he lacks is a price. He sits at 9-5 on the morning line and will likely start closer to even money by post time.

A value-priced alternative is Inca King, who won a first-level allowance at Keeneland April 27 and was sold after the race to Heiligbrodt Racing Stable. Turned over to trainer Steve Asmussen, he shows a series of slow, steady works leading up to this race.

Although yet to be tested in a stakes race, he acts like a horse with stakes potential. In winning at Keeneland last month, he easily handled a talented group that included Lattice, another Jefferson Cup starter. (Lattice was one of four next-out winners from the race.)

His speed makes him the upset choice. With most of the opposing riders understandably concerned about beating favored Duveen, a stalker, I doubt they are going to want their mounts to run with Inca King early. To do so could leave them weakened when Duveen makes his run from a couple of lengths off the pace.

Whether or not Inca King is good enough remains to be seen. But he figures to get a favorable front-running trip, and if he stays at his morning line odds of 5-1, the price should be right.