10/07/2005 12:00AM

Tough finding value in 3 stakes

Intercontinental has the tactical speed to race on or near the lead in Sunday's WinStar Galaxy at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - There are three stakes races at Keeneland on Sunday's card, and the challenge will be to find the betting value in them.

The $100,000 Woodford, a 5 1/2-furlong turf stakes, is the fourth race on the card. The connections of Battle Won passed on the Phoenix and have chosen to use this race instead as his prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Based on Battle Won's second-place finishes in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar and the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga, the class drop into the ungraded Woodford will make him very hard to deny. That seems to be the point of running in this race, as Battle Won has finished second in each of his last three starts. A comfortable, confidence-building victory might do wonders for him. Unfortunately for bettors, Battle Won figures to be a short price, so they will have to look to the exotics to find a way to boost potential payoffs.

Early speed has been effective in sprints at Keeneland, with 15.6 percent of first-call leaders winning, good for an return on investment of $1.80. Battle Won will benefit from that trend. The question is who else will be helped in the exotics. Atticus Kristy should enjoy a good trip from just off the pace and can rally to get second. I'll give him the edge over Wrzeszcz, who will probably close, a style that generates a modest ROI on this course at this distance.

The Grade 2 WinStar Galaxy, a one-mile turf race, is the sixth race. Early speed gets above average results at middle distances on the grass at this track, and Intercontinental has enough tactical foot to be on or close to the lead during the early going, if her jockey, Jerry Bailey, asks her to do so. The catch is that she will be a low price. The bigger disappointment is that the primary threats to Intercontinental will probably only be ordinary odds themselves.

Wend is better than her sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Beverly D., but she will be well bet. Ticker Tape finished third, only 1 1/2 lengths behind Intercontinental in the Palomar, and would be an appealing alternative if not for the fact that she is winless in her last six starts. Katdogawn finished fourth, three lengths behind Intercontinental in that same race, and is eligible to improve second-time back from a two-month layoff.

The Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster, a 1 1/8-mile race on the main track, is the eighth race. Isola Piu Bella, a Chilean mare who has won 3 of her 6 starts in this country for trainer Todd Pletcher, will be well bet. But she finished eighth, beaten by 17 1/4 lengths, after acting up in the gate last time in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap. I'll see if I can beat her as she tries to rebound.

Capeside Lady, another Pletcher entrant, was last of six at 5-2 odds in her return from a freshening.

A return to form would make her dangerous, and she deserves to be considered if her stablemate is overbet. But the most interesting alternative to that pair is Pampered Princess. She is capable of taking the early lead, but she doesn't have to if Tamweel goes too fast too soon as she stretches out from a sprint to a route after carving out a 44-second half-mile fraction going seven furlongs last time at Philadelphia. Pampered Princess should be able to get past her late.

Watch the early races on the card, because if the speed is sticking, and Tamweel offers a square price, she will be worth playing on the hope that she can improve enough third time back from a six-month vacation to take them all the way.