12/27/2011 11:53AM

Aqueduct: Double Mint must answer fast-track question in Swirlaway

NYRA/Adam Coglianese
Double Mint is proven on slop, having romped in the East View Stakes, but can she run as well Thursday on a fast track in the Swirlaway?

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Thursday’s $75,000 Swirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct drew a field of only six New York-bred juvenile fillies, but the race is a complex handicapping puzzle. Three of the contenders have yet to prove themselves on a dry dirt surface, two have won only in the maiden claiming ranks, and one has simply not run very fast.

Double Mint is the only multiple winner in the field and comes off a 10 3/4-length victory in the Dec. 7 East View Stakes, which like the Swirlaway was run at a mile and 70 yards around two turns over the inner track. Both of Double Mint’s victories have come in the slop. In her lone start on dry dirt, she finished last in her debut sprinting at Saratoga.

“She was very green that day – you can’t go by that,” said trainer Dominic Galluscio, tied for second at this meet with seven wins. “We’ll find out if she needs slop or not because the track will be fast Thursday.”

As was the case in the East View, Double Mint will break from the rail under C.C. Lopez.

In the East View, Double Mint rated comfortably on the front end, alternating on the lead with Berning Carbs, before drawing away under only modest encouragement. Berning Carbs, who finished fifth in the East View, is back in this spot. Prior to the East View, Berning Carbs won a one-turn mile maiden race over the main track. That day she ran a mile in 1:40.59, with a final quarter in 26.51 seconds. She does get the services of Ramon Dominguez Thursday.

Lemon Splendor and Proud and Charming have both done their best work on the turf. However, there are reasons to consider both contenders in this spot. Lemon Splendor is by Lemon Drop Kid out of the dirt-stakes-winning mare Karakorum Splendor. Lemon Splendor ran twice on the turf at Aqueduct, winning a maiden race on Dec. 4 after finishing third on Nov. 20.

“I think she’s still learning how to run and we’re still learning about her,” said George Weaver, the trainer of Lemon Splendor. “This will give us an indication which way to go moving forward. There doesn’t look like there are any world beaters in there. This should give us a good read on how she handles the dirt.”

Proud and Charming comes off a maiden win on turf in her fifth start. She sprinted twice on dirt at Saratoga, finishing fourth when breaking from the outside in her debut and then third after stumbling at the start of her second race. Trainer Mark Hennig said that he believes Proud and Charming will ultimately be better on the turf, although he added: “I don’t think she’s a throw-out on the dirt. She really wants to run long.’’

Hennig added that Proud and Charming’s late-running style might not be conducive to the inner track, but he is hoping for a contested pace.

Full of Intent won a $25,000 maiden claimer going two turns over the inner track for Linda Rice in her dirt debut. Mon Rose, who won a $35,000 maiden claimer sprinting two back, stretches out for the first time. She is trained by Jimmy Jerkens.