08/29/2003 11:00PM

Hackendiffy makes first start on turf


After consistently trouncing the competition in the Ohio-bred ranks for two seasons, Hackendiffy is poised to try something completely different at Mountaineer Park.

The 3-year-old Hackendiffy, a five-time stakes winner racing at Thistledown and River Downs, is scheduled to make his turf debut and face older horses for the first time in the $75,000 Labor Day Handicap, one of two one-mile turf stakes on a 10-race holiday card.

Trained by Bernie Flint, Hackendiffy finished second in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby in June, then was given a freshening following a sixth-place finish in the Cleveland Gold Cup in early July. Although he has never raced on turf, Hackendiffy is a half-brother to Lendell Ray, a four-time winner on the grass, including the Lamplighter and the Jersey Derby in 2000.

With the forecast calling for rain, however, there's a chance the race will be moved to the main track, where Hackendiffy is 5 for 11 lifetime.

If the race stays on grass, the horse to beat in the field of 10 looks like Drewman, who is 2 for 2 lifetime on turf. He most recently won a money allowance race with a 96 Beyer Speed Figure at Churchill Downs in late June.

Buenos Dias, Spruce Run, and One Bad Dude - the second, third, and fourth-place finishers from the one-mile West Virginia House Delegates Handicap on the West Virginia Derby undercard - are the other logical contenders.

In the co-featured Summer Finale Handicap for fillies and mares, Glorious Grace, winner of the West Virginia Senate with a 94 Beyer in her last start, appears formidable.

Her chief rivals in a field of 12, plus one also eligible, are Arlington Park invader River Flower, winner of two claiming races in a row; and Naturally Wild, who posted back-to-back Beyers of 90 and 91 while finishing second in an optional claiming race at Laurel Park and the Honeymoon at Louisiana Downs.