07/28/2011 3:44PM

Colonial Downs: Turf veterans return for festival


Frisky Thunder and Bopolene, a pair of turf specialists who have been around long enough to make 20 starts apiece on grass, return to familiar spots where they have experienced past success on Saturday during the Commonwealth Turf Fest at Colonial Downs.

The 10-race card, which begins at 4:35 p.m. Eastern, features five grass stakes worth $50,000 apiece for Virginia-breds, at distances ranging from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.

The 7-year-old gelding Frisky Thunder, who has two wins and a close second in the past three runnings of the Daniel Van Clief, is back for his fourth crack in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds-and-up. The 6-year-old mare Bopolene will make her fourth straight appearance in the 5 1/2-furlong Oakley, a turf sprint for fillies and mares that she won last year at 9-1 and outran her 15-1 odds to collect a second-place check in 2008.

In his first two starts this season, Frisky Thunder put up back-to-back Beyer Speed Figures of 86 and 85 for an allowance win and sixth-place finish in the Da Hoss, both against open company. Those numbers stand out as superior against the nine foes he faces in the Van Clief (race 6), a race Frisky Thunder won last year and in 2008.

The main upset possibility is the 3-year-old Swagger Jack, who has been keeping classy company in Kentucky and Indiana. Two starts ago, Swagger Jack broke poorly, then passed seven horses and made up 8 1/2 lengths to finish fifth, 7 1/2 lengths behind the multiple graded stakes winner Banned. Swagger Jack was most recently an even sixth in the $214,000 Oliver at Indiana Downs.

Bopolene must concede six to 11 pounds to her 12 opponents as the 124-pound highweight in the Oakley (race 5). She is in sharp form, coming off a come-from-behind 1 1/4-length victory against males in the five-furlong Punch Line on July 4. She earned an Beyer Figure of 80 for that effort.

Others with last-race Beyers close to Bopolene’s recent figure are the 3-year-old Classy Zip (79), who comes off a close third in the $100,000 Alywow last month at Woodbine, and Molly Mingum, who has been off since recording a 78 Beyer as a 2-year-old in last July’s Tippett at Colonial.

In the other stakes:

◗ Play Eighteen, who defeated two opponents in her career debut, is the lone winner among a field of seven 2-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs in the Jamestown (race 4).

◗ The 3-year-old Deputy Fling, who surrendered a three-length lead in deep stretch of a first-level optional $22,000 claimer against open company two weeks ago, and the 6-year-old Jake Rattle N Roll, who was 1 1/4 lengths behind Bopolene in the Punch Line, but still finished ahead of nine other horses as the second-place finisher, look like the main threats in the 5 1/2-furlong Bert Allen (race 7).

◗ Lunar Mist, who rallied to defeat 10 opponents in the one-mile Firecracker at Mountaineer on July 3, and In the Rough, the third-place finisher in last year’s Virginia Oaks and a head shy of being 2 for 2 in her last two starts, figure to vie for favoritism in the one-mile Brookmeade for fillies and mares (race 8).