08/15/2011 1:05PM

Del Mar: Ventana may be a fish out of water in Green Flash

Barbara D. Livingston
Ventana will be making his turf debut after 20 starts on dirt and synthetic if he runs in Wednesday's Green Flash.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Bettors may wonder why graded stakes-winning sprinter Ventana is entered in a grass race for the first time in his 20-start career Wednesday at Del Mar. His trainer wonders the same thing.

“I don’t know if he is a turf horse,” Bob Baffert said. “I’m hoping it rains, and they’ll take it off the turf.”

However, it never rains in summer at Del Mar. The $85,000 Green Flash Handicap will go as scheduled – five furlongs on turf. If he starts, Ventana will be trying grass for the first time and Baffert admits Ventana was entered as a “last-minute thing.”

Surface is less problematic for Kinsale King, a world traveler whose 2010 form includes a $2 million Dubai sprint win and a close third in a Group 1 turf sprint in England. Carl O’Callaghan has valid reasons for entering Kinsale King in the turf sprint Wednesday.

“He ran on the grass in Europe and ran well,” O’Callaghan said. “I want to avoid Smiling Tiger and Euroears right now and this is probably the best spot.”

Ventana and Kinsale King are the top weights in the Green Flash, which includes stakes winners Gallant Son and Excessive Passion, consistent Streakin’ Mohican, and veteran Earnednevergiven. Nine entered, eight can start.

Ventana rebounded from a disappointing effort two months ago at Prairie Meadows with several sharp works on the Del Mar main track. His form this year includes a Grade 3 win at Pimlico, and respectable efforts at Santa Anita behind top sprinters Smiling Tiger and Amazombie. Ventana has won four races and $372,252 from 20 starts.

Kinsale King shipped to Dubai in spring for a second crack at the Golden Shaheen, but he scratched the morning of the race with a leg ailment. In his July 31 comeback in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby, Kinsale King pressed the pace and weakened in the lane.

Ten days later, Kinsale King worked a half-mile in a best-of-the-morning 46.20 seconds. Martin Pedroza rides Kinsale King, who has won 6 races and more than $1.5 million from 13 starts.

The sharpest horse in the field may be Streakin’ Mohican, runner-up in his most recent start July 3 in an ungraded turf sprint stake at Hollywood Park. Doug O’Neill trains Streakin’ Mohican, who has earned $77,010 since he was claimed in February for $40,000. Streakin Mohican is 7 for 24 lifetime.

Gallant Son returns to a sprint after finishing nowhere around two turns; Excessive Passion won a stakes at Pleasanton last out and won his only previous start in a turf sprint.

Raetodandty, Lt. Hopeful, and Quietly Mine complete the field.