05/28/2011 11:59AM

Mountaineer cards stakes double on Memorial Day

Tom Keyser
Kiss MIne, who led until the late stages of the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs earlier this month, returns to Mountaineer, where she won two stakes last season, for Monday's Decoration Day Handicap.

Two out-of-town horses with a record of success shipping to Mountaineer Racetrack figure to play prominent roles in Monday’s holiday stakes doubleheader, consisting of twin $75,000 races scheduled for one mile on turf.

The 5-year-old mare Kiss Mine, a winner as the odds-on favorite in two similar turf stakes locally last summer, will be difficult to beat when she returns to West Virginia for the Decoration Day Handicap (race 3). Generalissimo, a 6-year-old gelding who has 3 wins and 1 second in 6 starts on Mountaineer’s main track since 2009, switches surfaces for the Memorial Day Handicap (race 2).

Kiss Mine, based at Churchill Downs with trainer David Vance, gets some class relief after four consecutive starts in graded races. She most recently set the pace and led until deep stretch of the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard. The last three times she has appeared in ungraded races, Kiss Mine won the My Charmer on Turfway Park’s Polytrack and scored back-to-back wins in Mountaineer’s West Virginia Presidents and Summer Finale stakes.

War Tigress finished a distant fifth behind Kiss Mine in the Summer Finale, and will take another crack at her on Monday. The weight assignments, however, don’t help War Tigress’s chances. She was getting 10 pounds when she met Kiss Mine last August, but will carry just four pounds less than Kiss Mine, the 124-pound highweight, in their rematch. On the plus side, War Tigress has been in good form recently, missing by a head at Indiana Downs and by a half-length at Keeneland, both in one-mile allowance races.

Ansong finished 4 1/2 lengths behind War Tigress when they met in the Lady Canterbury last July, but she is eligible to improve if she runs back to her race three back in which she rallied to get third, earning an 85 Beyer Speed Figure, in a high-priced optional claimer at Gulfstream Park. In her last two races, Ansong was overmatched in the Grade 3 Honey Fox and out of her element in the off-the-turf Dahlia.

Spring Party, scratched out of Saturday’s Grade 3 Arlington Matron in favor of this spot, has 3 wins and a second in 4 starts since she was claimed for $25,000 last fall. She has been off since winning the one-mile Wintergreen on Polytrack in March.

In the first part of the stakes twin bill, Generalissimo stretches out from a 5 1/2-furlong sprint and switches from Tapeta to turf in the Memorial Day.

Two starts ago, Generalissimo got up by a nose in a $30,000 overnight handicap at Tampa Bay Downs. The 93 Beyer he earned would be sufficient to beat the field he faces on Monday.

His opponents include Kingofthebluegrass, who comes back just six days after romping by seven going a mile and 70 yards on dirt; New York shipper Flamin’ Hot, a sprinter who has never won going beyond 5 1/2 furlongs; and Sneakin’ Thru, who has been off since November but did win his comeback from 18 months on the sidelines in a seven-furlong turf race locally last June.

The most intriguing horse in the race, however, is the New York-bred Thunderestimate. Now 7, Thunderestimate has been away from the races since reeling off four wins in a row, capped by the $150,000 Cab Calloway division of the New York Stallion Stakes, as a 3-year-old of 2007. He is now in the barn of Carlos Lopez, who is 2 for 47 the last two years and whose 17 wins since 2006 have all come with $5,000 claimers.