11/16/2006 1:00AM

Confucius Say will try to dodge wet weather


The weather and track conditions, rather than weight, will determine where the star West Virginia-bred Confucius Say runs this weekend.

The 8-year-old Confucius Say is cross-entered in Saturday's $54,000 Stymie Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile race at Delaware Park, and the restricted $50,000 Frank Gall Memorial Handicap, a seven-furlong race at his home base, Charles Town.

There are plusses and minuses to both events.

In the Stymie, Confucius Say would have to handle nine furlongs, a distance at which he has excelled in the past but hasn't attempted since winning the West Virginia Breeders Classic for the second time in October 2002.

By remaining at Charles Town for the Gall, Confucius Say would be an overwhelming favorite against statebreds, but would have to carry 129 pounds, seven more than he has ever carried in 30 career starts, while spotting nine rivals between 10 and 23 pounds.

"I'm not pleased with the weight," said George Yetsook, Confucius Say's trainer. "But he's 17 hands and weighs about 1,300 pounds. If any horse can carry 129 pounds, he can."

Yetsook said he's more concerned with making sure Confucius Say runs on a fast track. Mud is the reason Confucius Say was scratched out of last weekend's $125,000 Mountaineer Mile at Mountaineer Race Track.

Yetsook said he fears that if weather forecasts calling for two inches or more of rain in West Virginia prove accurate, Charles Town's track won't drain quickly enough to be labeled fast by Saturday night.

"If the track is the least bit slippery, he'll go to Delaware," Yetsook said. "If the track's dry, he'll stay here at Charles Town."

Confucius Say should be favored in either spot. His 14 victories and $617,397 in earnings top the seven older horses entered in the Stymie. He most recently won the $190,000 Onion Juice at Charles Town going seven furlongs.

The main threats to Confucius Say at Delaware appear to be Angelic Aura and Smart Growth, who both last raced in the Sept. 30 Kelso at Delaware.

The 6-year-old Angelic Aura, a winner of 10 of 29 starts, missed by a head going 1 3/16 miles in the Kelso and is 0 for 4 at nine furlongs.

Smart Growth, winner of the $100,000 Brandywine in June, finished about three lengths behind Angelic Aura in the Kelso. Two starts back, he was a neck behind Tartlet in the Owners Day Handicap. Tartlet returned last weekend to win the Mountaineer Mile.

At Charles Town, if Confucius Say defects, Donald's Pride, the second highweight at 119 pounds, would likely inherit the role of favorite.

Although winless in eight starts this season, the consistent 6-year-old Donald's Pride has posted Beyer Speed Figures in the narrow range of 94 to 96 in five of his six dirt starts in 2006.

Also dangerous are Shenandoah Harley, second to Speed Whiz last time out going nine furlongs in the $450,000 West Virginia Breeders Classic, and Rhythmic Moves, 3-year-old winner of the West Virginia Lottery Classic who would be facing older horses for the first time.