09/22/2012 12:44PM

Mountaineer: B J’s Estercita looks best in Monday feature

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B J’s Estercita, an easy winner the last two times she raced on the main track, looks formidable again despite taking a slight rise in class for Monday night’s featured eighth race at Mountaineer Racetrack.

The one-mile race for fillies and mares is open to third-level allowance horses, nonwinners of four lifetime, and $25,000 claimers. The 5-year-old B J’s Estercita is the only runner among a field of six entered for the optional claiming tag.

Although almost exclusively a sprinter throughout her 25-race career, B J’s Estercita responded well when asked to try two turns on the main track for the first time on Aug. 5. Racing over a muddy surface, she rolled to a 13 1/2-length victory as the 4-5 favorite in a first-level optional $15,000 claimer. After finishing third when she went back to turf at the next allowance level, B J’s Estercita cut back to a six-furlong sprint on dirt for her most recent start and scored by 3 3/4 lengths.

Stretching back out to a mile should not be a problem. Her owner-trainer, John Baird, shows a 4-for-9 record (44 percent) with last-out winners moving from sprints to routes.

The lightly raced 3-year-old Vilao and heavily campaigned 6-year-old American Romance look like the best candidates to complete the exacta.

Vilao, 3 for 7 lifetime, returns to the main track after her first two attempts at grass, which included a win going 7 1/2 furlongs in a second-level optional $20,000 claimer on Aug. 12. Her trainer, Rebecca Baker, is 3 for 11 (21 percent) with horses returning from a 31- to 60-day layoff in a route.

American Romance, 8 for 38 lifetime, was a dominant force in $5,000 starter allowance races last season, winning four times, but has struggled against stronger company in six consecutive losses in 2012. The most encouraging stat that applies to American Romance is trainer Robert McFall’s success with dirt route runners back in less than 30 days. He is 6 for 25 (24 percent) in that category, including a 3-for-7 record with American Romance.

Oddity can contend if she can transfer her good turf form from June and July, when she won back-to-back races, to the main track while making her first start in 2 1/2 months. Her two wins on dirt came in six-furlong sprints.