06/18/2004 12:00AM

If turf's firm, Mocha Queen formidable


A pair of $40,000 turf stakes - the Oliver and the A. J. Foyt - highlight the 12-race program Sunday at Indiana Downs, closing day of the 48-day Thoroughbred meeting.

Only two of the 11 entrants in the Oliver, a one-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, have ever won on the turf - Mocha Queen and America America.

Mocha Queen, trained by Mike Lauer, looks like the one to beat. She comes into the race off an easy 3 1/2-length victory over first-level allowance company in a one-mile turf race at Churchill Downs on June 5.

Mocha Queen has a 2-2-0 record from six starts on the turf with her only two off-the-board finishes coming on soft courses. A firm turf course on Sunday figures to make her tough to beat. Terry Houghton will be in to ride Mocha Queen at 114 pounds.

America America is a highly traveled and heavily raced daughter of Mister Baileys owned and trained by Franck Mourier. She made 17 starts as a 2-year-old last year in both the United States and Europe, compiling a record of 3-6-3 with earnings of $298,640.

In seven starts this year, America America has managed just one third-place finish, but she has been facing much tougher company. In her most recent start, she dueled on the lead before tiring badly to finish last of seven in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race at Pimlico.

The drop in class could make America America a factor. Rodney Prescott, the meet's leading rider, picks up the mount.

The 5-year-old gelding If I Were You, winner of back-to-back races against allowance company on the Indiana Downs turf, leads a field of nine entered in the A. J. Foyt, a 1 1/16-mile race restricted to Indiana-breds.

* If I Were You captured the Brickyard on the dirt at Hoosier Park last October for his only career stakes win. Overall, he has a record of 6-5-4 from 22 starts, good for $114,378 in earnings.

Mr. Mink has the best overall credentials of those entered in the Foyt but is a question mark over the turf. Mr. Mink captured three straight stakes races against Indiana-breds last fall at Hoosier and enters off an easy front-running score against handicap rivals at Fairmount Park on June 5.

Mr. Mink is 6-3-0 from 10 career starts but his only off-the-board finish came in his lone turf start when he set the pace to midstretch before fading to finish seventh, beaten 10 1/2 lengths, against handicap rivals at Indiana Downs on May 22.

Churchill shipper Gottabeachboy should be making a late run under Eddie Zuniga and is a possible upsetter.

If the Foyt is rained off the turf, the front-running Mr. Mink is strictly the one to beat, but if it remains on the grass he may prove vulnerable at a short price. Trainer Mike Nance has named Rodney Prescott to ride Mr. Mink.