09/11/2007 11:00PM

Eight entered for $400K Presque Isle Masters

EmailERIE, Pa. - A field of eight was entered on Wednesday for the $400,000 Presque Isle Masters, the highlight of this inaugural meet. The six-furlong race over Tapeta is for fillies and mares and will be run Saturday along with two $175,000 supporting stakes.

The expected favorite is Shaggy Mane, who finished second in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney at Calder in her last out July 7 at Calder. She will ship in from Southern California for trainer Don Chatlos after working on the synthetic surfaces at Del Mar and Hollywood Park.

Miss Macy Sue won her first four starts this year for trainer Kelly Von Hemel, including the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs. She was rank in her last effort, the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at Saratoga Aug 3, and finished fourth in the field of five. She has had two works over the Polytrack at Arlington Park, including a bullet five furlongs Sept. 1. The move was the best of 45 at the distance that day.

The other entrants are Mary Delaney, a six-time winner over synthetic surfaces for trainer Eddie Kenneally; Wild Gams, who has worked twice over the local surface for Ben Perkins; Vestrey Lady, who is in from Woodbine for trainer Reade Baker; Smart and Fancy, who switches from turf for Anthony Dutrow; and a pair trained by Steve Kelsaris, Miraculous Miss and Coli Bear.

Seven horse were entered for the Presque Isle Mile, headed by the Steve Asmussen-trained Super Frolic, who in his last two starts has finished second in the $200,000 Evangeline Mile and the $115,000 Tiznow Breeders' Cup at Louisiana Downs.

A field of 10 was drawn for the 5 1/2-furlong Karl Boyes Memorial, which will pit the three-race win streak of Indian Chant, trained by Tom Amoss, against the four-race win streak of Bernie Blue, trained by Miguel Feliciano.

Tapeta gets a thumbs up

This is the first race meet in the country being run over a Tapeta racing surface, and so far the response has been extremely positive. The surface, installed by Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Footings Inc., has been in use for years at Dickinson's Tapeta Farm and is also in use at the Fair Hill training center, both in Maryland. A Tapeta surface is currently being installed at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California.

"The Tapeta surface is very consistent no matter the weather," said Darren Fleming, Asmussen's local assistant. "We have worked 50 horses over it, and the horses have been injury-free so far. It is kind on the horse."

Trainer Scott Lake said some of his horses have improved over the surface.

"We like the track very much," said Lake. "I brought horses here who haven't breezed well on the dirt and they have found their stride here."

During the first nine days of racing, two horses have been injured during races. In the Inaugural Stakes, the first race here on opening night, Cantrel broke down while racing on the lead and had to be euthanized. On the second night, Genie on the Move was pulled up during a race and vanned off the track.

The surface has been fair from a handicapping perspective. There hasn't been an inside or outside bias, as horses have come up the rail and circled the field with equal success. Speed horses have had a fair chance, winning 19 of the first 64 races in wire-to-wire fashion.

Six-furlong times have been in the 1:10 to 1:12 range. The first rain of the meet came last Saturday night, and the track sped up noticeably for Sunday's card. Ravalo, a 3-year-old colt, went six furlongs in 1:08.26 in an allowance race, nearly two seconds faster than any other horse at the meet. Other horses who turned in quick times Sunday were Zooming By, who ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.93 while entered for a $50,000 claiming race; Sir John Q, who covered a mile in 1.37.38 in a conditioned $10,000 race; and Flaming Comet, who went five furlongs in 57.74 seconds in a $10,000 maiden claiming race. As a way of comparison, General Tommy won a starter allowance race over Golden Hare, the Asmussen-trained horse who had won 13 of his 14 previous starts, during the track's opening week in 58.50.

Offtrack handle rising, ontrack falling

After nine nights of racing, all-sources wagering at Presque Isle is averaging $559,157 a card, with almost 90 percent of that amount being bet offtrack. Ontrack handle has dipped from a high of $126,204 on opening night, to $32,436 this Monday. The average ontrack handle for the first eight days is $59,773. Offtrack handle increased during the second week of the meet to $499,384 per program.

o Favorites are winning a low 20.8 percent of the races, with payoffs averaging $18.68. This may be partially due to horses shipping in from many different tracks to race, and the figures may improve as the meet progresses and bettors get a handle on how to compare horses coming from the different circuits.

o In the first nine days of racing, 24 horses have been claimed for $357,000.