12/14/2005 12:00AM

Value lies looking past chalky four


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Decisions, decisions.

Friday's nonwinners-other-than allowance feature at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs is loaded with options. The turf race at about 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares drew 14 entries, including two also-eligibles. The purse is a healthy $41,000 thanks to the 18 percent purse increase the track instituted this week.

First there is Commercialize, who finished fourth in the Pago Hop Stakes here in her last start following back-to-back second-place finishes at Keeneland. Then there is Contagious, who will be making her first start for the powerful Steve Asmussen barn and who will be ridden by this track's leading rider, Roman Chapa. Madam P is almost certain to improve in her second start back after being given a year off by Bret Calhoun, the recent Remington Park training champ. There is also Paver and Roller, the runner-up in a similar spot here in her last start.

While all four certainly merit a good long look, there is a drawback. Together, they have started more than 60 times and have only four wins: one apiece. Collectively, they have been far more prone to complete the exacta or trifecta, racking up a remarkable 34 second- and third-place finishes.

All those near-misses have resulted in some short prices, and some thinking outside the box on Friday may result in better value.

One of those in the value category could be Tressel. Overlooked at 12-1 in her last out at Churchill Downs, Tressel, a 4-year-old Real Quiet filly, controlled the pace throughout in that one-mile turf affair before being nipped at the wire. While double-digit odds are too much to ask for on Friday, Tressel could be a fair price in her local debut.

Gennie's Challenge is the winningest horse in the race, with four trips to the winner's circle. A distant eighth in her last start, she will not warrant much more than a cursory look from many bettors on Friday. Her last effort came in a race that was rained off the turf, however, and there is little doubt which surface is Gennie's Challenge's favorite. She rebounded from a similar situation earlier in the year and posted a pair of wins over the local grass late in the spring.