05/14/2011 2:05PM

Mountaineer: Kentucky fillies deserve respect in Ohio Valley


A pair of Kentucky-based 4-year-old fillies whose best races have come on either Polytrack or turf will try to transfer their good form to dirt in Tuesday night’s $75,000 Ohio Valley Handicap, the first stakes of the season at Mountaineer Racetrack.

Zonga Zing, 4 for 7 on synthetic surfaces but 0 for 4 on dirt, and Hot Hot Mama, winless in five starts on dirt since April 2010, nevertheless merit serious consideration in the six-furlong Ohio Valley on the basis of how well their trainers have done shipping into Mountaineer.

Joe Woodard, who trains Zonga Zing, is 36 for 99 over the past two seasons with the horses he has run at Mountaineer. That figure would be even better if News Brief had not lost by a nose as a 7-1 shot in last year’s Ohio Valley.

Zonga Zing follows the same pattern as News Brief, arriving at Mountaineer after a prep at Indiana Downs. Zonga Zing makes the second start of her form cycle after finishing second in a second-level optional $40,000 claimer contested on a sloppy track. In her lone previous appearance at Mountaineer, Zonga Zing finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in a third-level allowance last November.

Hot Hot Mama has been training at Keeneland since March for Kellyn Gorder. Although he is a modest 14 percent this season, Gorder’s numbers are a much better 8 for 25 with the runners he has shipped to Mountaineer over the past five seasons. Hot Hot Mama, 2 for 12 lifetime on dirt, switches surfaces after finishing second in a six-furlong optional $100,000 claimer at Keeneland.

Based on his past success at Mountaineer, where he has gone 15 for 38 (39 percent) the past two years, trainer Tom Amoss must be respected with his coupled entry of Venado and Courante. Of the pair, the 5-year-old Venado looks the most dangerous. She shows a best-of-30 five-furlong workout in 1:00.60 at Churchill Downs in preparation for her first start since finishing third in a pair of $30,000 overnight handicaps at Tampa Bay Downs.

The lone locally based horse in the field of seven fillies and mares, B J’s Estercita, is 3 for 8 lifetime at Mountaineer and will be making her second start following a seven-month layoff.