05/11/2007 11:00PM

Lake, Flint ship-ins always dangerous


With three horses exiting races on Polytrack, another going turf-to-dirt after winning a stakes, and five of the nine entrants without a single previous race at Mountaineer Racetrack, Tuesday night's $75,000 Hancock County Handicap certainly looks confusing.

Deciphering the five-furlong stakes for fillies and mares becomes a lot easier, however, if you focus on the trainers instead of the past performance lines.

Scott Lake and Bernie Flint merit automatic respect in Mountaineer stakes.

The Kentucky-based Flint has gone 5 for 17, - a 29-percent success rate - with a $2.20 return on investment, in Mountaineer added-money events the past two years.

Lake, who runs horses at Charles Town far more frequently than he sends runners to the western tip of West Virginia, is nevertheless 3 for 5 in Mountaineer sprint stakes since 2005, a record bolstered by Outcashem's 3-for-3 mark locally in 2005-06.

Flint brings High Heritage back from a five-month layoff for the Hancock County. Her career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 105 came when she crushed allowance horses going 5o1/2 furlongs last September at Mountaineer.

Lake has the coupled entry of Rupert's Prospect, a mare he claimed for $60,000 last month at Gulfstream Park, and Amber's Kelly, a speedy 5-year-old based at Philadelphia Park.

Lake, whose mare Rain Song was second in last year's Hancock as the 1-2 favorite, claimed Amber's Kelly for $25,000 in January. Since then, she has a win and 2 seconds in 3 starts. Lake has given the mount to J.D. Acosta, who has won with 44 percent of the horses he has ridden for the trainer since Jan. 1, 2006.

Rupert's Prospect is only 1 for 6 the past two seasons, but is 2 for 2 in short dirt sprints.

The 120-pound highweight and likely favorite is Country Diva. She was second in her return to Mountaineer after going 1 for 3 in sprint stakes at Oaklawn Park to begin her 2007 campaign.

Nightmare, Bucky's Prayer, and Friendly Theresa all come off victories over either Polytrack or turf and could win if they transfer their sharp form to dirt. The best of the trio could be Bucky's Prayer, who earned a 92 Beyer for winning the Lightning City on turf at Tampa Bay Downs and is 4 for 4 lifetime on fast dirt tracks.