10/22/2011 10:36AM

Mountaineer: High-percentage trainers square off

Email

Joe Woodard and Nabu Morales, one working with a large group of horses and the other with a small string, are both scoring with a high percentage of their runners this season at Mountaineer Racetrack. Woodard, who leads the trainer standings with 36 victories, and Morales, who has started less than two dozen horses, both have prime contenders in Monday night’s featured eighth race, a third-level allowance for fillies and mares going six furlongs.

Woodard, clicking at 34 percent with the Kentucky-based horses he has brought to Mountaineer, will saddle the sharp 3-year-old filly Won Great Damsel. She makes her first appearance since scoring a front-running victory in a second-level optional $40,000 claimer at Ellis Park on Sept. 2, improving her career record to 4 for 6.

Oswald Pereira, who has gone 14 for 31 (45 percent) riding for Woodard at Mountaineer this year, will be aboard Won Great Damsel for the first time when they break from the outside post in the seven-horse field.

The Thistledown-based Morales has carefully picked his spots for invading West Virginia, going 9 for 22 (41 percent) with his ship-ins to Mountaineer. The 6-year-old Delaware Twitch, a mare Morales claimed for $7,500 in August 2010, is a definite horse for the course. She has gone 11 for 21 on Mountaineer’s main track, including 2 wins and a pair of close seconds in 5 starts this season.

Delaware Twitch’s success locally includes a three-length score in a money-conditioned allowance in June. Most recently, she was second, surrendering the lead in deep stretch, of a $20,000 claimer two weeks ago.

Marco Ccamaque, 9 for 19 (47 percent) riding for Morales at Mountaineer this season, retains the mount.

The main threat to the two logical favorites appears to be the 6-year-old mare Oriental Bella, who returns to sprinting after flashing high speed in three consecutive longer races, including a pair on the turf.

Oriental Bella, 7 for 25 on Mountaineer’s main track, has held the lead after the first six furlongs of her last three races – two of them stakes. She wound up third after setting the pace in the $85,000 West Virginia President’s Cup and won for a $30,000 claiming tag going 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass. Her last good dirt sprint, however, came nine starts ago when she finished second against $30,000 claimers in the slop.