08/11/2005 11:00PM

Lord of the Game favored if he runs


Lord of the Game has risen from $10,000 claimer to Grade 2 winner, and if he runs Sunday on the richest card of the meet at Mountaineer Race Track, he will be a popular favorite and big pace player in the $125,000 West Virginia Governor's Stakes. But is also entered in the $45,000 Cigar at his home base of Arlington Park on Saturday, and on Friday morning, trainer Tom Tomillo was deliberating in which direction to head with Lord of the Game.

"I'm still undecided right now," he said. "I think probably I'm leaning a little more toward Arlington."

The Governor's is one of eight undercard stakes on a nine-race card led by the Grade 3, $750,000 West Virginia Derby. The $1.5 million in total purses, fueled in part by the 3,500 slot machines in operation at Mountaineer, make for the richest day of racing in history in West Virginia.

Mountaineer won passage for slot machines in 1993, and a pilot program introducing them was up and running at the track in 1994. The purse of its premier race, the West Virginia Derby, has increased from $600,000 a year ago, and last year only six undercard stakes were run on West Virginia Derby Day.

The fields for this year's undercard stakes are competitive and punctuated by a number of horses on win streaks. Entrants have shipped in from all over the country, with trainers from B to Z - Bob Baffert to Nick Zito - all running horses on Sunday's undercard.

Tomillo said he likes post 2 for Lord of the Game in the Governor's, and if he goes, he would look for the horse, who won the Grade 2 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup on July 2, to be close to the pace. Other top contenders in the 1 1/16-mile race are graded stakes performers for trainer Dale Romans.

A double for O'Neill?

Trainer Doug O'Neill, who has top contender Dover Dere in the West Virginia Derby, will be seeking a victory on the undercard with Areyoutalkintome in the $125,000 Harvey Arneault Memorial Breeders' Cup.

The six-furlong race is for 3-year-olds and up, and other starters in the field include Peeping Tom; Onlynurimagination; Super Fuse; Sterling Gold, who in his last start earned a Beyer Figure of 107; and Tiger Heart, who earned a 108.

Areyoutalkintome last raced at Del Mar, finishing sixth after dueling on the lead in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup. Before that race, he was sixth in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park.

"He's run against some top, top horses on the West Coast," said O'Neill. "He's a very classy, hard-knocking horse, and six furlongs seems to hit him right between the ears."

O'Neill added that Areyoutalkintome did not get the best of trips last out at Del Mar. Areyoutalkintome, who won the Grade 3 El Conejo at Santa Anita in January, will be ridden by Patrick Valenzuela.

Outcashem seeks sixth straight win

Outcashem, who has won his last five starts, including a restricted stakes, might be stepping up in class for the $85,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman's Cup, but they are playing his game in the 4 1/2-furlong race. That was the distance of his last win, and the distance at which his streak started back in March. Scott Lake has given the mount to Travis Dunkelberger.

Another horse who streaks into the race is Nicole's Dream, a turf sprint specialist who moves to dirt and is going after her fourth straight win. Others of interest in the field include the Baffert-trained Apalachian Thunder and Danieltown.

* Injustice looks like the most logical winner on the card in the $85,000 West Virginia Secretary of State. She won the $100,000 Saylorville at the six-furlong distance of this race in her last start on July 4, and earlier in her career won the Grade 3 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup. Craig Perret has the mount for trainer Wayne Catalano.

* Lady Grace will shoot for her fifth straight win Sunday in the $125,000 West Virginia Senate President's Breeders' Cup, a one-mile turf race for fillies and mares. Her chief rivals appear to be Dynamia and May Gator.

* Rapid Proof, Missme, Cloudy's Knight, and Gin and Sin appear to be the top contenders in the West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker's Cup. The purse for the one-mile turf race is $85,000.

* The impressive maiden winner Lizzy's Township will take on the more experienced More Than Pretty in the $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies. The top contenders in the $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile are Neverbeendancin', Gallows, and Crafty Ticker.

* Admission and general parking are free at Mountaineer on Sunday. Last year, 16,256 turned out on West Virginia Derby Day.

* Dave Johnson will call the West Virginia Derby ontrack and for ESPN.