03/02/2013 3:18PM

Mountaineer: Allowance favorites will be switching surfaces


A pair of horses switching from Polytrack to dirt may hold an advantage in split divisions of one-mile races that serve as the co-features Tuesday night at Mountaineer Racetrack.

Antique Wedding, a winner at Turfway Park two starts ago while racing for a $15,000 claiming price, is ideally drawn on the rail in race  7, the first of two races open to first-level allowance runners, nonwinners of two lifetime, or $15,000 claimers.

In race 8, Gambling Don, a game second despite encountering traffic trouble, stretches out from 6 1/2 furlongs and returns to the dirt surface and two turns he seems to prefer.

The co-features both carry a purse of $22,200 and attracted eight-horse fields.

The 4-year-old Antique Wedding, based at Keeneland with trainer Kellyn Gorder, looks good if he can transfer the form he displayed winning by three lengths on Dec.  13 at Turfway Park to Mountaineer, where he has been first and second in two previous visits. That includes a solid runner-up performance when he switched surfaces to finish second in a one-mile allowance at Mountaineer after winning a Polytrack sprint at Keeneland in 2011.

Although Antique Wedding was trounced by more than 22 lengths last time out on Jan. 25, he was facing an extremely sharp horse. The winner, Whatthecatdrugin, won that race by 15 lengths with a 96 Beyer Speed Figure and returned to validate that number by beating optional $40,000 claimers with a 97 Beyer on Feb. 15.

Gorder shows a 7-for-24 record (29 percent) with route runners switching from synthetic to dirt following a break of 31 to 60 days.

Antique Wedding’s most dangerous opponent may be Max Silverhammer, who appeared to regain his confidence crushing $5,000 claimers at Charles Town on Feb.  14. His trainer, Joe Woodard, went 28 for 84 (33 percent) with the horses he shipped to Mountaineer last season.

One race later, the 4-year-old Gambling Don returns to Mountaineer, where he has been third or better in five of six starts.

Last time out, racing for a $15,000 claiming price at Turfway, Gambling Don had to steady on the turn to avoid a horse who unseated his rider. Gambling Don still managed to gain nearly six lengths in the final furlong to miss by three-quarters of a length.

Gambling Don’s good races at Mountaineer last year included a win in a nonwinners-of-two allowance going a mile and 70 yards.