11/23/2006 1:00AM

Try beating two stakes favorites


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Saturday's card at Churchill Downs, featuring 12 races for 2-year-olds, is being billed by the track as showcasing the "Stars of Tomorrow."

That isn't just racetrack hype. The all-juvenile program offers four stakes, led by the Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod Stakes, plus four allowances and four maiden special weight races. Most of those races offer full fields, seemingly setting the stage for at least several nice-priced winners.

Although the favorites in the two headline events are talented - Change Up in the Golden Rod and Tiz Wonderful in the Kentucky Jockey Club - neither is a can't-lose type. Both are making their first start around two turns, and given that inexperience, I cannot back either to win at a short price.

Lady Joanne is my choice to upset Change Up in the Golden Rod. A daughter of Orientate, she has shown rapid progress for trainer Carl Nafzger, improving in each of her three starts. Following a debut race in which she ran third at Turfway, she won her maiden by 6 1/2 lengths at Keeneland Oct. 11 and then finished third behind Change Up in the Grade 3 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs Oct. 29.

Change Up crossed the wire 2 1/4 lengths in front of Lady Joanne that afternoon, but Lady Joanne could have made a tighter race of it had she not spotted the rest of the field two or three lengths with a tardy start. She came running through the turn and the stretch, but was unable to put a dent in Change Up's lead in the final furlong.

Lady Joanne has trained very well since the Pocahontas, recording three fast works, including two bullet breezes at five furlongs. If she can break alertly, I think we will see more of a pace-pressing or stalking trip from her.

As for favored Change Up, she is a very good filly. She won the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies this summer, beating eventual Grade 1 Spinaway winner Appealing Zophie, and in the Pocahontas she showed a new dimension by rating kindly off the pace. She is so naturally speedy, however, that I question if she will settle well running in her first two-turn race.

She has a great jockey in John Velazquez, but his presence will contribute to her being a skimpy number on the odds board.

Velazquez also rides the favorite in the Kentucky Jockey Club in Tiz Wonderful, who like Change Up, has shown brilliance. A tall, long-striding son of Tiznow, he has won both of his starts handily, taking his first start at Saratoga by 12 1/2 lengths and the Oct. 29 Iroquois at Churchill Downs by 6 3/4 lengths.

He showed signs of greenness in the latter race. Leading on the turn, he was put in an all-out drive by jockey Garrett Gomez to maintain his position when challenged. It ultimately didn't matter - he drew off as much the best - but the hustling ride seemed to suggest that Tiz Wonderful was losing focus or waiting on horses.

He is the most likely winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club, but I can't bet him at his 4-5 morning line odds.

Who is the best alternative? At 10-1 on the morning line, I like U D Ghetto. Coming off a seventh-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, a race he lost by over 28 lengths, he seems likely to be overlooked. At least he had a legitimate excuse for losing so badly last time. He stumbled at the break and raced wide over a track that favored inside paths.

Toss that race out and his form is respectable. He won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park, defeating stablemate Shermanesque, and he also won a maiden race in fast time at Ellis Park over the summer. That maiden win, a race in which he ran a career-best 89 Beyer Speed Figure, suggests he is not strictly a horse that moved up over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Turfway Park.

The Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes are not the only races on the card that could produce stars. A number of the allowances and supporting stakes also drew top prospects.

Corrupt, a 7 3/4-length winner on turf last month of his only start, heads the Grand Canyon Stakes on grass, and Ochre looks like the class of the Caressing Stakes, another grass stakes race, this one for 2-year-old fillies.

The fifth and 12th races present two of the best wagering opportunities. Chelokee, coming off a 13 1/4-length maiden score at Delaware Park, looks ready to score his first allowance victory in a good field. And Vicarian appears set to the close out the card and the Churchill meet with a victory in the nightcap. He ran second at Keeneland last month and should move up racing 1 1/8 miles.