06/04/2003 11:00PM

Docent and X Country return to scene of success


A pair of 5-year-olds who have done quite well when they have traveled to Mountaineer Park for stakes races will try to repeat that formula for success in Saturday's $75,000 Slipton Fell Handicap.

Docent, who won the Mountaineer Mile in his last visit to West Virginia, and X Country, who has been chasing such heavyweights as Lido Palace and Mineshaft since he won last year's Fall Handicap at Mountaineer, head a field of seven older horses in the mile and 70-yard Slipton Fell.

Trained by Tim Ritchey, Docent has won 10 of 20 lifetime starts, including both of his races at Mountaineer. He has earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in five of his last six starts, including a 104 over a muddy track in last November's Mountaineer Mile and a 101 in his first start this year, a romp over high-priced optional claimers at Pimlico.

X Country was narrowly beaten by Docent when they faced each other in last August's West Virginia Governor's Handicap. X Country, trained by Jack Fuchs, came back to Mountaineer to win the Fall Handicap at nine furlongs. Since then, X Country has been ambitiously placed, finishing seventh behind Lido Palace in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs and last of four behind Mineshaft in the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland in late April.

If Docent and X Country fail to fire, Golden Oldie could surprise if he runs back to his race two starts ago at Keeneland. Competing in an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles following a layoff of more than two months, Golden Oldie was beaten just two lengths while earning a career-best Beyer of 102. He regressed dramatically off that effort, however, and has now had a month to recover. Golden Oldie has been first or second in four of his five lifetime starts at Mountaineer.