08/05/2003 11:00PM

Dynever can show his stuff in West Virginia


LAS VEGAS - While racing's best are showcased at Saratoga and Del Mar during the summer months, there is a lucrative race for 3-year-olds at Mountaineer Park on Saturday. The West Virginia Derby, at $600,000, has attracted a very competitive field of 3-year-olds who bypassed the division leaders in last weekend's Jim Dandy Stakes and Haskell Invitational.

Nine are scheduled to run in the West Virginia Derby, headed by Dynever (by Dynaformer). After barreling through his conditions and then winning the Aventura Stakes and Lone Star Derby, Dynever was pointed to the Belmont Stakes by trainer Christophe Clement, but he struggled over the sloppy surface. I have always believed this colt is the real goods and will prove it by the end of the year, on dirt or turf.

While Dynaformer is predominantly known as a sire of superior turf runners, his offspring Perfect Drift, Blumin Affair, Critical Eye, and Starrer have proven that Dynaformer is equally capable of siring a top-class horse on dirt.

Dynever is out of a mare by Zilzal, a European Horse of the Year who lost only one race in his brief career, the Breeders' Cup Mile. Dynever inherits a great deal of stamina from both sides of his pedigree. In addition to Dynaformer (by Roberto), Dynever's female family has a wealth of stout influences. His second dam is a half-sister to Reluctant Guest, a multiple stakes winner on turf, and Dynever's third dam is by one of the world's great stamina influences, Vaguely Noble. Dynever's fifth dam, Cherokee Rose (Princequillo), won the Coaching Club American Oaks and is the second dam of a Horse of the Year, Ack Ack.

While Dynever looks to regain much of the luster that was lost in the Belmont Stakes, the West Virginia Derby will not be a cakewalk. The challengers include:

Mobil (Langfuhr). A major stakes winner in Canada at 2 and 3, he is considered that country's second-best 3-year-old, behind only Wando, another son of Langfuhr, who defeated Mobil soundly in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate. Mobil is a classy individual and should appreciate the cut back to 1 1/8 miles.

Soto (Dehere). After reeling off three straight victories capped by an impressive win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, Soto was mentioned as Kentucky Derby material. But an injured knee knocked him out of the classics, and trainer Michael Dickinson, famous for his patience with injured runners, has Soto ready to make some waves. Away eight months, Soto returned in an allowance race at Philadelphia Park. Facing inferior competition, he scorched six furlongs in 1:08.80. A champion at 2, Dehere has sired runners who have been most effective over middle distances, and while Soto's female family is full of brilliant (speed) influences such as Crafty Prospector and Wing Out, he should handle nine furlongs. Soto's second dam is a half-sister to a multiple stakes winner, Bet Big, who also finished third in the 1984 Woodward Stakes.

Supah Blitz (Mecke). A model of consistency, Supah Blitz has been mostly a bridesmaid against top competition, but he is capable of a good effort at 1 1/8 miles. Second to Dynever in the Aventura Stakes and to Trust N Luck in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, Supah Blitz is actually better bred for grass but fits well with this group.

Domestic Dispute (Unbridled's Song). Domestic Dispute won the Santa Catalina Stakes at 1 1/16 miles earlier in the year but did not develop into classic material. His sire, Unbridled's Song, has turned out to be more of a speed than stamina influence, and Domestic Dispute still must prove he wants to go even 1 1/8 miles.

Outta Here (Dehere). Outta Here dead-heated for third in the Swaps Stakes behind During, but like Supah Blitz and Domestic Dispute, he is far below the top 3-year-olds. Another colt by Dehere, who was whisked away to Japan before his runners had a chance to prove themselves, Outta Here has a female family full of high class. His second dam, Doubles Match, is a half-sister to Danseur Fabuleux (the dam of Arazi and Noverre) and Doubles Partner (the dam of Joyeux Danseur).

Jim Dandy/Haskell fallout

Allowed to set soft fractions, Strong Hope outlasted Empire Maker in the Jim Dandy, but Strong Hope, a son of Grand Slam, will be hard-pressed to go another furlong in the Travers Stakes. Empire Maker still ran a big race in his first effort since the Belmont Stakes and is clearly the choice at 1 1/4 miles.

The pleasant surprise in the Jim Dandy was the emergence of Congrats. A late-blooming son of A.P. Indy, Congrats won his 2-year-old debut at Saratoga but had myriad growing pains and just recently returned to the wars under the watchful eye of trainer Shug McGaughey. It spoke volumes that the very conservative McGaughey threw the lightly raced Congrats against the likes of Empire Maker. Congrats belongs with the big boys and is a colt with a big future.

Peace Rules was a perfect fit for the glib Monmouth surface and had the profile of past Haskell winners. If he is to ever win at 1 1/4 miles, it will be over a surface such as Del Mar, and Peace Rules will race next in the Pacific Classic and try to emulate last year's winner Came Home, who was also suspect at the distance. But the presence of Congaree in the Pacific Classic would make the chances of a victory by Peace Rules slim to none.