03/23/2017 12:26PM

McPeek has two in Bourbonette Oaks

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
China Grove won the Wide Country Stakes at Laurel on Feb. 18.

Horsemen often choose to run turf horses in stakes on Turfway Park’s synthetic Polytrack surface, believing such types are better suited to adapting to the track than a dirt runner. Trainer Ken McPeek doesn’t necessarily disagree with this angle, but his commonsense strategy is simply to run a quality horse.

“A good horse can run on anything,” he said recently after It’s Your Nickel won the John Battaglia Memorial for him at Turfway.

On Saturday, in Turfway’s Grade 3, $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks, the sister race to the featured Spiral, McPeek is again deviating from the widely accepted turf-to-Polytrack move, bringing Awesome Boss and Purely a Dream into the race off efforts on dirt, although both have at one time raced on the grass. They are unraced on a synthetic track.

Awesome Boss seemingly has the better chance of the two, having raced twice this year and having won her last start, while Purely a Dream is returning from a layoff going back to Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs, where she was eighth in a first-level allowance.

The Bourbonette, a one-mile race that awards 85 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Oaks, offers a well-matched field. Besides the McPeek pair, 10 others were entered, including three unbeaten fillies in locals Gilded Lily and Jenna J plus Golden Gate raider Darkwingsoverdubai, a Jerry Hollendorfer trainee who is expected to vie for favoritism.

They’re joined by proven stakes horses in China Grove and Delphinia. China Grove won the Wide Country Stakes at Laurel on Feb. 18, while Delphinia dominated the Cincinnati Trophy at Turfway on Feb. 4.

“The stretch-out is the question that will be answered Saturday,” said Wesley Ward, the trainer of Delphinia, who has yet to race beyond 6 1/2 furlongs. “If it is horses for courses, I think she is the winner. She loves the track.”

The Bourbonette goes as the ninth race on a 12-race card at 5:09 p.m. Eastern, following the Rushaway Stakes and preceding the Spiral.

Key Contenders

Darkwingsoverdubai, by Raven’s Pass
Beyers
: 85-61

◗ She finished with a flourish to win a pair of sprints at Golden Gate on the Tapeta synthetic surface and has the pedigree to relish a stretch-out to a route.

China Grove, by City Zip
Last 3 Beyers: 77-68-74

◗ She was sent to Laurel to win the Feb. 18 Wide Country after having to miss the Cincinnati Trophy due to an equine herpesvirus quarantine at Keeneland at the time. She breezed on Polytrack over the Keeneland training track during the winter, and “she seemed to get over it well,” trainer Ben Colebrook said.

Delphinia, by The Factor
Last 3 Beyers: 87-72-49

◗ She is by a sprinter and out of a sprinter. Both her sire and dam were best around one turn, though The Factor did carry his blazing speed to win the 1 1/16-mile Rebel at Oaklawn in 2011.

Awesome Boss, by Street Boss
Last 3 Beyers: 70-78-65

◗ McPeek has won two of the last seven editions of the Bourbonette Oaks, with Orchestrator (2010) and Wonderment (2016).