10/04/2007 12:00AM

Wild Gams fits Polytrack profile

EmailNEW YORK - This is the last weekend of major Breeders' Cup prep races. So predictably, Saturday's stakes schedule is packed with important races.

Thoroughbred Club of America

In past Polytrack meets at Keeneland, speed horses were inhaled and outside closers ruled until late in the meet, when speed horses fared better. It remains to be seen if Keeneland's Polytrack will behave the same way this fall meet. But until evidence is seen to the contrary, I'm going to operate under the assumption that it will, and give special consideration to closers.

This is one reason I like Wild Gams, as she does have a good closing kick, a punch that should only be aided by an abundance of early speed in this spot. Her late move was on display last time out when she finished a much improved second off a four-month layoff in the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes. She was beaten a diminishing 1 1/2 lengths by Miss Macy Sue, who was winning her fifth stakes race from her last six starts, and it is even more to Wild Gams's credit that she ran so well over a Tapeta surface that was favoring horses close to the pace. Moreover, not only did this effort signal a return to the solid form Wild Gams displayed last year when she won two graded stakes and narrowly missed in a Grade 1, she has a license to improve second start back off the layoff.

Phoenix Stakes

The Tapeta to Polytrack surface switch that helps make Wild Gams appealing in the TCA Stakes also comes into play in this event. Indian Chant is the probable favorite here off his victory last month in the Karl Boyes Memorial at Presque Isle, his fourth straight win. Connections, a late runner, finished third in the Boyes, beaten three lengths by Indian Chant. But I'm looking for Connections to turn the tables Saturday.

Beyond the fact that Connections had to go against the grain of the track at Presque Isle, there are other reasons to like him here. He was making his first start in five months in the Boyes, and though he has run well when fresh in the past, he still has a right to be tougher second time back. Connections certainly has an affinity for Keeneland's Polytrack, where he scored decisive sprint victories in his prior two starts.

Jamaica Handicap

Nobiz Like Shobiz is 2 for 2 since switching to turf, and he will probably be the favorite, as he has been in all his starts over the last year, with the notable exception of the Kentucky Derby. But Nobiz Like Shobiz hasn't exactly dominated since moving to grass - he prevailed by a nose last time out and held on by a half-length two starts back - and this is the toughest group of turf runners he has faced so far. There are other attractive betting alternatives, such as Shamdinan, winner of the Grade 1 Secretariat who moves back in with straight 3-year-olds Saturday after meeting older in the Man o' War most recently, and the promising War Monger. But I'm going with Red Giant.

Red Giant was nailed by Shamdinan in his last start, but the Secretariat was run on deep going that might have been much more suitable to Shamdinan, as he was a recent arrival from Europe. That won't be the case Saturday, as a continued lack of rain in New York ensures this race will be run on firm to hard going, which will be more in Red Giant's favor. Red Giant ran a solid race when he upset the Virginia Derby two starts back, and he can be effective when close to the pace, an important consideration in a race lacking early speed.