03/10/2011 5:38PM

Aqueduct: Inherit the Gold vs. Yawanna Twist in Kings Point

Barbara D. Livingston
Yawanna Twist, third in last year's Preakness, eturns to New York-bred competition for the first time since he won his first two starts sprinting over the inner track last winter in Saturday's Kings Point.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – James Hooper knew eventually that his top-flight New York-bred gelding Inherit the Gold would be facing better competition. He just didn’t think it was going to happen in Saturday’s $65,000 Kings Point Stakes for statebreds at Aqueduct.

In Yawanna Twist – who twice placed in graded stakes as a 3-year-old and who was beaten less than two lengths in the Preakness – Inherit the Gold faces his toughest opponent. Hooper, the part-owner, part-breeder and trainer of Inherit the Gold, welcomes the challenge.

“I’m not afraid of anybody right now,” said Hooper, whose horse has won four of his last five starts. “I’m just praying my horse can give me that same effort that he’s done, and if we can get a 100 Beyer or so I’ll take whatever position I fall in.”

Inherit the Gold has won three consecutive races over the inner track, earning Beyer Speed Figures of 100 in an open-company allowance win on Jan. 13 and a 99 in the Mr. International Stakes for statebreds on Jan. 26.

Hooper gave Inherit the Gold a little break following those two races and brings in a relatively fresh horse to the Kings Point, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles over the inner track.

“The last five or six days he’s telling me that he’s ready to rock and roll, I think,” Hooper said.

Inherit the Gold has won all four of his two-turn races over the inner track and Hooper believes his horse will relish the 1 1/8-mile distance.

Inherit the Gold will carry 124 pounds under Eddie Castro from post 6.

He’ll be conceding six pounds to Yawanna Twist, the Rick Dutrow trainee who returns to New York-bred competition for the first time since he won his first two starts sprinting over the inner track last winter. After that, Yawanna Twist ran second in the Gotham and Illinois Derby and was fourth, beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Lookin At Lucky, in the Preakness. He lost a shoe in the Preakness and was given ample time to get over a foot injury. He came back with a solid second-level allowance win at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 5.

“So far, knock wood, he’s come back the right way,” said Jim Riccio, who owns Yawanna Twist. “Rick says he’s doing well; the race in Florida he wasn’t cranked up and it was a good race for him.”

Spa City Fever, second to Inherit the Gold in the Mr. International, could play out as the primary speed under Jorge Chavez.

Mine Over Matter, Stud Muffin and Thunder Chief complete the field. Thunder Chief was entered in an allowance race Friday.