12/22/2009 12:00AM

Flavor sharp for Mountaineer upset try


On Oct. 22, Flavor ran for a claiming tag in a race restricted to nonwinners of two lifetime. Two days later, Ravalo missed by a half-length in a Grade 1 stakes.

Saturday night, both horses show up in the $75,000 Christmas Stakes at Mountaineer Racetrack. But it might not be as much of a mismatch as it appears on paper.

The 3-year-old gelding Flavor comes into the six-furlong Christmas riding a four-race winning streak while rising in class from a $30,000 conditioned claimer to a $50,000 optional claimer. He switches from Polytrack to dirt, a move that last time produced an eight-length romp in his first appearance on Mountaineer's main track.

Flavor's trainer, Joe Woodard, shows a 10-for-20 record with winners switching from synthetic surfaces to dirt, according to DRF's Formulator.

Ravalo, the 3-5 choice on the track's morning line, won last year's Christmas by 6 1/4 lengths, earning a 102 Beyer Speed Figure. He has been freshened by Maryland-based trainer Donald Barr since rallying to finish second in the Grade 1 De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park two months ago.

The last time Ravalo returned from a similar break, he won the $108,000 Harvey Arneault locally in August.

Overall, Ravalo, the 124-pound highweight in a field of 10 sprinters, is 4 for 5 at Mountaineer.

The other sharp horse-for-the-course is Harlan Street. He's 3 for 3 locally, including a nearly four-length score in mid-October which launched a three-race winning streak. Harlan Street shortens up in distance after winning back-to-back one-mile stakes at Delta Downs.

The 3-year-old Nay's Tap is a neck shy of owning a four-race winning streak. Winner of the Sophomore Sprint Championship two starts ago, Nay's Tap missed by a neck facing older horses in a two-turn second-level optional claimer at Charles Town last time out.

The Kentucky-based Golden Country has hit the board in all three of his stakes tries within the past 12 months. His best recent race was a two-length score against second-level allowance company at Churchill Downs in early November.