12/29/2005 12:00AM

Trickle of Gold strong price play in La Brea

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Expect good odds on East Coast invader Trickle of Gold in the La Brea.

LOUISVILLE, KY. - With 14 3-year-old fillies entered for Saturday's Grade 1 at Santa Anita, horseplayers have a multitude of options.

Illustrating some of the possibilities, three entrants - Berbatim, Shining Energy and Three Degrees - are going from turf to dirt, a move that four of the last six winners of this race also took. Another runner, Great Intentions, is coming off a Grade 2 victory in the First Flight Handicap over older mares. And there is also the Bob Baffert-trained uncoupled entry of My Miss Storm Cat and Pussycat Doll, two fast, talented fillies.

They have much to like about them. But I find more to like about Trickle of Gold.

Her primary appeal is from a price perspective. Because Trickle of Gold invades from the East Coast, where she raced mostly at such B-level tracks as Laurel and Delaware Park, I doubt she will receive the same mutuel respect as others. I'm anticipating odds of 6-1 of more.

Considering that she has won her last six races, most of them by daylight, odds around 6-1 would represent value. And while it is true that she is not entirely battle-tested, I believe she has faced better fillies than a quick glance at her past performances might indicate.

Three starts ago in winning the Safely Kept Breeders' Cup at Laurel, she thoroughly handled Maddalena, a Todd Pletcher-trained filly that was considered a top-class sprinter at times over the past year. And in her last race, the Anne Arundel Stakes, she left nine fillies in her wake, include eighth-place Tappin for Gold, the subsequent winner of the a division of the My Charmer Stakes at Turfway Park.

Her Beyer Speed Figures also point to her as being among the fastest in the field. Her last two figures of 100 and 107 suggest she is of comparable quality to Great Intentions and My Miss Storm Cat, two starters also coming into the La Brea off triple-digit Beyers.

Trickle of Gold has faults - as do most value-oriented selections - such as her one-dimensional, front-running style and little experience in being shipped a long distance.

She also has assets, most notably a six-race win streak and a 7-for-12 record. Horses that win at a high percentage are among the best plays in racing because they possess desire that sets them apart.

In watching replays of Trickle of Gold's races, I was struck by how quickly she meets challenges. Although her past performances suggest she had clear leads in most of her races, that has not always been the case. A couple times I saw her get hooked between calls, only to respond so quickly that she spurted away by the time the trackman annotated her position at the quarter-mile and half-mile calls.

If My Miss Storm Cat or another horse comes out blazing for the lead, my guess is that they will find Trickle of Gold a difficult filly to outsprint.

Great Intentions is seemingly the most probable winner, but by a narrow margin, suggesting to me that she will be an underlay. Entering the La Brea off three straight wins in New York, including a win at the La Brea's seven-furlong distance in the First Flight, she appears unlikely to be passed over by the betting public, as Trickle of Gold likely will.

Coupled with Mystic Chant, Great Intentions will start as the favorite or the second betting choice behind My Miss Storm Cat, a filly that has started at odds of 7-10 or less in all three of her starts.

My Miss Storm Cat has been a striking winner in two of her races, but an interrupted racing and training schedule is a cause for concern on a filly that will be strongly supported at the mutuel windows.

Trickle of Gold is the choice to take the La Brea - at a price.