04/30/2003 11:00PM

Gill, Shuman surface at Mountaineer


Racing fans wondering where owner Michael Gill and trainer Mark Shuman might resurface need only look at the entries for Saturday's card at Mountaineer Park.

The highly successful but controversial team of Gill and Shuman have entered four horses, including an entry for Mountaineer's first stakes of the season, the $75,000 Panhandle Handicap.

Boston Brat, who set one track record and tied another at Gulfstream Park, and Native Heir, a Grade 3 stakes winner in south Florida, are Gill and Shuman's entry in the five-furlong Panhandle.

In addition, Shuman and Gill have entered Unaccounted Affair in the seventh race, a starter-allowance at 1 1/4 miles, and Harbor Pass in the eighth, an allowance for nonwinners-of-three lifetime.

In the ninth race feature, Boston Brat and Native Heir appear formidable.

The 6-year-old Boston Brat won his last three starts at Gulfstream, earning Beyer Speed Figures ranging from 100 to 110. He has been idle since mid-March.

Native Heir, a 5-year-old gelding, won the Grade 3 Deputy Minister at Gulfstream in early February, worth a 109 Beyer, and most recently finished third in the $100,000 Artax at seven furlongs. Native Heir is 2 for 2 at Mountaineer. Both wins came in stakes in late 2001 when Native Heir was in a different barn.

Two other sprinters in the seven-horse field have the credentials to upset the Shuman-Gill entry. Crossing Point won the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap and the Paumonok Handicap, both at Aqueduct. He will be making his first start since early March. Takeachance on Me has posted triple-digit Beyer Figures in his last three starts, including a win against high-priced optional claimers at Laurel.

Delaware: Only the Best comes east

Losing to some of the best 3-year-olds in Southern California is no disgrace. But it makes little sense to move up to face even tougher older horses after getting whipped by such Kentucky Derby prospects as Buddy Gil, Indian Express, and Eye of the Tiger.

So trainer Brian Lynch decided to bring Only the Best across the country in an attempt to rejuvenate the gelding.

Only the Best, a two-time stakes winner last year but 0 for 3 in 2003, will try to earn a spot on the Preakness Stakes undercard by running a big race in Saturday's $75,000 Francis "Jock" LaBelle Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park.

Lynch said he would like to use the six-furlong LaBelle as a stepping-stone to another sprint, the $100,000 Hirsch Jacobs, which will be run May 17 at Pimlico.

Traveling 3,000 miles from California looked like a much better option than remaining home. "Around here, it's hard to get a straight 3-year-old sprint," Lynch said from California. "He is a bonafide sprinter and if we stayed out here, we would have to hook older horses."

Only the Best's chief competition should come from Don Six and First Blush. Don Six most recently finished second after setting the pace in the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct. First Blush spent the winter at Gulfstream Park, where he won the Grade 3 Spectacular Bid Stakes early in the meet.

Pimlico: Shuman entry heads Clark

Good recent turf form is a rare commodity among the 14 horses entered in the $75,000 Henry Clark Stakes at Pimlico. Only 10 will run.

The only runners to have won on the grass this year are Glick, part of an entry from trainer Mark Shuman, and Run to Victory, who drew post 10 for the one-mile turf stakes.

If the 7-year-old Glick runs, he will be coming back just two weeks after wiring six rivals while running for an $80,000 claiming tag at Gulfstream Park. A month earlier, Glick beat $50,000 claimers. He does have some back class, however. Last September at Kentucky Downs, Glick finished second in the Kentucky Cup Mile, earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

Glick is coupled with Sardaukar, a one-time classy runner who has lost his last eight races. Sardaukar has been keeping good company, finishing third in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap in February and fourth in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf in March.

Run to Victory, trained by Alan Goldberg, is 4 for 9 lifetime on grass. He spent the winter at Fair Grounds, where he defeated high-priced optional claimers by 2 1/2 lengths, earning a 103 Beyer for the about one-mile race. Run to Victory has been idle since March 23.