02/23/2012 1:52PM

Laurel Park: The Lumber Guy, Brimstone Island could be suspect in Miracle Wood


Among the 10 3-year-olds entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park, The Lumber Guy and Brimstone Island own by far the two best last-race Beyer Speed Figures. Neither horse, however, may be quite as good as he appears on paper.

The Lumber Guy, who dominated New York-bred maidens in his career debut while earning a 90 Beyer, and Brimstone Island, winner of three straight lower-level claiming races by a combined margin of 20 1/2 lengths, including back-to-back 80 Beyers in his two most recent outings, are both stepping up substantially in class for the seven-furlong Miracle Wood.

In addition, handicappers should be cautious about accepting The Lumber Guy’s big figure at face value. The Mike Hushion-trained The Lumber Guy raced on a day when inside speed dominated the inner track at Aqueduct, producing six wire-to-wire winners. Neither of the two horses who have raced again since competing in The Lumber Guy’s six-furlong sprint on Jan. 28 has won.

Brimstone Island has raced exclusively in claiming events throughout his first six races and will be making his first start for trainer William Campbell, who took the son of Tiznow out of an 11 1/4-length win for $16,000 on Feb. 1.

Over the past five years, Campbell is 2 for 15 first time off the claim with horses back in less than 30 days, including 0 for 5 with those he moved up to non-claiming events. Two of those starters, however, missed by a neck and a head.

Among the others, the two most intriguing are the lightly raced Friscan and recent maiden winner Romp City.

Friscan, the lone entrant in the Miracle Wood field nominated to the Triple Crown series, vanished from the racing scene following a third-place finish in last summer’s Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs. Making his first start since being transferred to Graham Motion’s barn in January, Friscan easily defeated first-level optional $40,000 claimers, earning a 74 Beyer.

Romp City lost his first three starts in Pennsylvania, but responded to a switch to Laurel Park and a stretch out to the same seven furlongs as the Miracle Wood to come from off the pace in a 4 1/2-length maiden win on Feb. 4, earning a 73 Beyer.