12/20/2007 12:00AM

Ask the Moon gets first shot against statebreds

EmailAsk the Moon, perfect in two starts at a flat mile, appears well spotted to secure her first stakes victory in Saturday's $50,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship at Laurel Park.

Based at Philadelphia Park with trainer Ned Allard, Ask the Moon will be dropping from open company to face Maryland-breds for the first time. A $125,000 purchase at the OBS sale of 2-year-olds last March, Ask the Moon won her maiden by 10 1/4 lengths in a one-turn mile at Laurel in August and most recently defeated first-level allowance runners in a two-turn mile at Philly Park.

Her winning Beyer Speed Figure of 71 for her lone race at Laurel is close to the average of 75 for the Juvenile Filly Championship since 2000.

Only two other fillies in the field of eight own a winning Beyer of at least 70. Kosmo's Buddy hit that figure last time out, winning a first-level allowance around two turns at Charles Town. Two races ago, Hartigan also earned a 70 for her neck win over Kosmo's Buddy in the restricted Gin Talking Stakes. But that race was a turf sprint, and Hartigan hasn't run faster than a 64 on dirt.

In addition to Ask the Moon, Snow Park is a two-time winner at a mile. She easily beat maidens in October, and after finishing fifth in her first start against winners, Snow Park rallied to win a high-priced optional claimer.

She will be wheeling back just nine days later and making her third start in the last month for trainer Fran Campitelli.

Brass Brae brings a 3-for-3 record into the stakes, but two of her victories were for a claiming tag and she has yet to race beyond six furlongs.

Mountaineer: Coach Jimi Lee ships in

The straightest line of travel from Chicago to Miami doesn't come close to intersecting with West Virginia. But before the Midwest-based older sprinter Coach Jimi Lee gets to his winter headquarters at Gulfstream Park, trainer Jim DiVito is making a side trip to Mountaineer Racetrack for the $75,000 Christmas Stakes at six furlongs.

If Coach Jimi Lee gives a performance typical of a career in which he has won 16 of 41 starts and $906,248, he should win the Christmas. But there are some doubts about whether he's still the same horse. After winning the Waterford Park Handicap in his previous trip to Mountaineer in May, Coach Jimi Lee spent six months on the sidelines recovering from a splint-bone injury.

In his comeback at Churchill Downs, Coach Jimi Lee backed up badly and finished last of seven as the 2-1 favorite. DiVito couldn't find any physical reason for the poor effort and was encouraged enough by three subsequent workouts at Hawthorne to enter Coach Jimi Lee in the Christmas.

If Coach Jimi Lee fails to fire, the prime win candidate looks like Ravalo, a 3-year-old who upset last month's Sophomore Sprint Championship locally with a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

Aside from last year's running, when Fabulous Strike freaked and posted a 119 Beyer, the average winning figure for the stakes since 2001 is 96, which indicates that 107-pound lightweight Trophy Road may be a live longshot.

Though his best races were against Ohio-breds at Thistledown and River Downs, the 3-year-old Trophy Road has won 3 of his last 5 starts, all with Beyers between 94 and 97.

If it rains, wet-track specialist Bubba Gum would become a prime contender. He has been no worse than second the last four times he raced on off tracks, though one of the seconds was in a non-betting match race at Delaware Park. He comes off a four-length win worth a 103 Beyer, the best of his 45-race career.

Charles Town: Shipper puzzler

How well do medium-priced claimers who have been facing open company out of town fit in a stakes race restricted to West Virginia-breds at Charles Town?

That's a key question for handicappers trying to figure out the most likely winner of the $45,000 Eleanor Casey Memorial Stakes for 2-year-old statebred fillies going 6 1/2 furlongs.

Light Up the City, who beat $25,000 claimers two starts ago at Laurel Park, and Attention Deficit, who won her maiden for a $50,000 tag at Delaware almost four months ago, bring the best Beyers into the race.

If Shesdebonairness is a good barometer, then Light Up the City may not fit well in this spot. Shesdebonairness is back to take another shot at Light Up the City after finishing 4 1/4 lengths behind her at Laurel. One start prior to that, Shesdebonairness was noncompetitive in a 4 1/2-furlong restricted stakes at Charles Town.

Locally based We're in the Money, a three-time stakes winner in short sprints, will try to make amends after finishing second carrying 128 pounds as the even-money favorite when stretched out to seven furlongs for last month's Tri-State Futurity.

Veiled Reference, winner of a maiden race at 6 1/2 furlongs last time out, and Megan's Mission, who improved her Beyers each time she has raced and comes out of a win in open first-level allowance company at the Casey distance, also merit consideration.