10/19/2006 12:00AM

The top and bottom of Showcase exotics

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New York Showcase Day is annually a terrific betting card. Let's go through the New York-bred stakes, designating contenders as either "A" horses, the linchpins to exotic wagers, or "B" horses, the fringe contenders, some of which can boost payoffs into home-run territory.

Sleepy Hollow

Chief's Lake looks solid after winning maiden and first-level allowance sprints with the two fastest Beyer Speed Figures in Saturday's field. But there has to be an element of doubt as he returns on eight days' rest and stretches out from six furlongs to a mile. Bad Boy Rising, Solid Strike, and Karakorum Cobra come off improved efforts, and any or all might move forward again. Solid Strike finished a couple of lengths behind Bad Boy Rising in the B.F. Bongard last out, but passed eight horses on a track that was carrying speed.

A - Chief's Lake

B - Bad Boy Rising, Solid Strike, Karakorum Cobra

Maid of the Mist

Win With a Wink has won her first three starts with figures that have moved higher as the races have gotten longer, so the stretch to a mile seems well within her scope.

Queen of Green and Golden Dreamer won their debuts with identical figures just slightly below Win With a Wink's best. Queen of Green is preferred between those two; she has had five weeks between races and has a pedigree that suggests she is headed for bigger and better things. Golden Dreamer is coming back on very short rest.

A - Win With a Wink, Queen of Green

B - Caught Red Handed, Laurentide Ice

Hudson

Gold and Roses was an effective router for a long time but may be a better sprinter, judging from three races during the summer. He has been freshened since finishing third behind Who's the Cowboy, a winner of four straight stakes at Monmouth Park, and Weigelia, who set a course record for six furlongs on Belmont turf at the spring meet.

Gold and Roses won off a similar short layoff in April and might be a viable single except for the presence of Sharp Humor, who won two stakes at Belmont as a juvenile last fall and upset the Swale in his first start at 3. Sharp Humor has been idle since the Kentucky Derby, after which he had surgery to remove a knee chip.

A - Gold and Roses

B - Sharp Humor

Ticonderoga

Rahys' Appeal won this race by a lopsided margin in the slop last year with a lifetime top Beyer of 92. She matched that figure on turf last out in Monmouth's Omnibus Stakes despite a tough trip. "The trip she had last time cost her the race," said trainer Tom Bush. "A speed horse stopped in front of her. She had to stop, get outside, and go wide."

Finlandia also arrives in peak form, after a perfect-trip win in the Yaddo Handicap and a sharp try in an open allowance.

In the Yaddo, Elisa's Energy was in trouble early and often. She broke in the air and rushed up early, steadied on both turns, and was beaten less than two lengths.

A - Rahys' Appeal

B - Finlandia, Elisa's Energy, Sabellina

Iroquois

The most wide-open race on the card contains 14 filly-and-mare sprinters and a complex pace scenario.

Zippy Shannon and Her Royal Nibs are fastest based on their one-two finish in the Schenectady, but may be pressured up front by some combination of Samsincharge, Summer Palace, Little Miss Zip, and Gold Like U. The survivor may be Her Royal Nibs, who has shown the ability to sit just off the lead.

Hoping for a pace meltdown are Carlow, Ruby's Rocket, and No Reason.

A - Her Royal Nibs

B - Zippy Shannon, Summer Palace, No Reason, Samsincharge, Carlow, Ruby's Rocket

Mohawk

Certifiably Crazy has been a consistent force in the male turf division for several years and has been running near-peak figures finishing first or second in his last four starts. He handles rain-softened footing.

Retribution wired the A.T. Cole at the expense of Certifiably Crazy and Foreverness at 25-1 last out and is likely to get yielding-to-soft conditions again.

Key Event ships in off two good efforts in open stakes, and seems more formidable than when he met this kind previously.

A - Certifiably Crazy

B - Retribution, Foreverness, Key Event

Empire Classic

Spite the Devil never looks particularly good on paper, but is gunning for his third straight win in this race after a useful prep finishing behind Naughty New Yorker, West Virginia, and Organizer in the Gen. Douglas MacArthur. A late-runner, Spite the Devil should get a favorable pace setup because there are several early speed types. Funny Cide and Carminooch should also benefit from the pace.

A - Naughty New Yorker, West Virginia, Spite the Devil

B - Funny Cide, Carminooch