12/03/2011 12:40PM

Laurel: Woodbine shipper Silent Wisper may be a live longshot

Michael Burns
Silent Wisper, whose last win came in a 1 14/-mile turf allowance at Woodbine in July 2010, will make her dirt debut in Tuesday's feature at Laurel Park.

At first glance, Silent Wisper looks like an easy horse to eliminate as a contender in Tuesday’s feature at Laurel Park, a second-level optional $25,000 claimer for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Formerly based at Woodbine, the 4-year-old Silent Wisper has raced exclusively on turf and Polytrack throughout her 20-race career. She has not finished higher than seventh in her last three starts while beaten a combined 33 3/4 lengths at odds of 11-1, 68-1, and 20-1. Her new trainer, Catherine Robinson, is 0 for 17 at Laurel’s fall meet.

Dig a little deeper, however, and Silent Wisper takes on the appearance of a live longshot at 15-1 on the track’s morning line.

Silent Wisper is the latest in a series of horses from owner Gustav Schiekedanz and trainer Mike Keogh to be sent down from Woodbine to Robinson’s barn in Maryland in late fall. Her record with newcomers shifting from Polytrack to dirt is 3 for 10.

Two years ago, Longlasting came out of a seventh-place finish at Woodbine to score at 4-1 for Robinson going 1 1/8 miles at Laurel. That same season, Cheers Mate, 11th at Woodbine, connected at 6-1 in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles. Last fall, Red Rival, 13th at 117-1 at Woodbine, shipped in to score as the 3-5 favorite in a $7,500 claimer.

Last Thursday, Woodbine import Politelyprecious, 8th at 41-1 in Toronto, missed by a half-length at 17-1 in a first-level allowance at Laurel.

Given that evidence, Silent Wisper merits respect making her dirt debut in an eight-horse field. She showed signs she can handle the surface switch by working four furlongs over Woodbine’s dirt training track in 47.40 seconds on Nov. 13.

The two logical favorites in Tuesday’s race are Music Please and Punta Ballena, both in for the optional claiming tag.

The 4-year-old Music Please is back at the same level where she missed by a neck going a mile a month ago. She has been no worse than second in 5 of 6 starts at Laurel.

Punta Ballena, a 5-year-old mare, was claimed by high-percentage trainer Jamie Ness two starts ago out of a fourth-place finish for $20,000 at Delaware Park. In her first start for Ness, Punta Ballena ran evenly to finish a distant third going a mile. Ness hits at a 30 percent clip second time off the claim the past two years.