04/19/2010 11:00PM

Heavenville nothing to scoff at


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Steve Asmussen, no fan of synthetic surfaces, probably wouldn't shed any tears if they blew up every all-weather track and replaced them all with dirt.

Perhaps, he would settle for simply blowing up the tote board with longshot Heavenville in Saturday's Grade 2 Lexington Stakes over Keeneland's Polytrack.

A tote-exploding payoff would be just fine with this horseplayer . . . and by the look of the past performances, it might just happen.

Heavenville, 12-1 on the morning line, is in the best form of his career, proven at the Lexington's 1 1/16-mile distance, and a winner over the Polytrack surface at Keeneland, having won his debut at Keeneland in April last year.

So why is he 12-1? Two letters - "LA" - signifying him as a Louisiana-bred.

When handicappers open the past performances for the Lexington and see those letters and starts against statebred opposition, I have little doubt some will believe the horse couldn't possibly be good enough.

Don't fall into that trap. Heavenville is a runner. He is a Louisiana-bred in name only as he is by a Kentucky sire, Offlee Wild, out of a mare who is by Petionville, another Kentucky stallion.

Admittedly, being born in Louisiana presented him with races not afforded most horses - nine restricted statebred events, in fact.

But on the basis of recent Beyer Speed Figures, which measure how fast a horse ran, not the caliber of competition it faced, he is essentially as fast as the other horses in the field who have raced in "bigger" races.

In winning the Crescent City Derby for Louisiana-breds in his last start March 27 at Fair Grounds, he ran a Beyer Figure of 87, among the leading figures in the field, particularly among those coming off two-turn races.

Best yet, he has a right to move forward off that race. This horse, as noted earlier, won over this track last spring, winning by 4 1/4 lengths at first asking, defeating a field that included the eventual Lane's End winner, Dean's Kitten.

In winning that race, he showed the kind of stretch acceleration that distinguishes a horse on the Polytrack.

Keep this in mind - this is a horse who is seemingly much better as a router than he was at a short-distance 2-year-old in the spring of last year.

Adding to his appeal is the confidence Asmussen is showing in him.

Remember what he I said about Asmussen not being a fan of such tracks. He doesn't like them because, as he told me last fall, they don't tell you where you are with a horse. They don't tell you where you are, meaning on the surface on which most races are run, dirt.

Where Heavenville is Saturday is at Keeneland on the Polytrack, when he could have been just as easily entered back later in a race like the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs or the Lone Star Derby down in Texas.

He's here because Asmussen knows he likes the Poly. And although his trainer may not like it, Heavenville certainly does, and I can't wait to bet him Saturday for that reason.

Blue and Gold Stakes

The richest race in the country Saturday is of all places at . . . would you believe Charles Town? That's right. The $1 million Charles Town Classic is being run there Saturday evening.

Not surprisingly for that kind of cash, it drew a quality field, and a deep field, to boot.

But the race there I'm more eager to bet comes two races earlier on the card in the eighth race, the $100,000 Blue and Gold Stakes going seven furlongs.

Sitting at 9-2 on the morning line in the race is Comedero, one of the best and most underrated 3-year-old sprinters in the country, a horse who seemingly could not have drawn any better for the seven-furlong, two-turn race in post 2.

For those unfamiliar with Charles Town, it is important to realize the makeup of the track. It's a tight bullring, and going seven furlongs there is a short run to the first turn, with a similarly short stretch.

You can probably guess how this layout favors certain horses. In general, you need to be on or near the lead to be successful, and inside posts and trips are highly favorable.

With the speedy Comedero drawn inside his chief opponents, Plantation and Toboggan Slide, he looks poised to make the front, create some separation from the field into the first turn, and lead gate to wire.

Just don't expect to get anything near his 9-2 morning line. But anything higher than 5-2 makes him a potentially rewarding wager.