06/30/2012 2:39PM

Mountaineer: Kentucky shippers look strong in Firecracker, Independence Day


A pair of Kentucky-based horses with a proven affinity for the turf course at Mountaineer look imposing in pre-holiday races that launch the West Virginia track’s stakes schedule Tuesday evening.

Revelstoke, runner-up in two stakes locally last season, figures to go favored in the $75,000 Firecracker for fillies and mares going a mile (race 3). One race later, Strike Impact, who barely missed in his lone Mountaineer stakes appearance last August, is the logical choice among eight older male horses in the $75,000, one-mile Independence Day.

In last year’s Firecracker, Revelstoke outran her 34-1 odds to finish second, beaten three-quarters of a length. Although she is 0 for 8 on turf, the 4-year-old Revelstoke shows four consecutive Beyer Speed Figures on turf and synthetic surfaces this season in the narrow range between 76 and 82. Most recently, she won a nonwinners-of-three allowance on the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs by 4 1/2 lengths with an 82 Beyer.

The co-highweight with Revelstoke at 122 pounds is another Kentucky-based filly, Aquapazza. Racing exclusively on turf in Louisiana in four starts this year, the Ronny Werner-trained Aquapazza has not been worse than third, including a win in a conditioned claimer at Fair Grounds and a win in the one-mile Opelousas at Evangeline Downs last time out.

Like Revelstoke, the 6-year-old American Romance is winless on the grass. A deep closer, American Romance rallied belatedly to get fourth in the 2011 Firecracker, 1 3/4 lengths behind Revelstoke.

The 8-year-old Strike Impact returns to Mountaineer for the first time since missing by a neck as the even-money favorite in the West Virginia Speaker’s Cup on last year’s West Virginia Derby undercard. He comes into Tuesday’s race following back-to-back in-the-money performances against optional $100,000 claimers at Churchill Downs. On the down side, Strike Impact has lost 11 straight since winning back-to-back starts at the same level he most recently competed.

Another 8-year-old, Vanquisher, won twice on Mountaineer’s turf in 2010, taking the West Virginia Speaker’s Cup and Labor Day Stakes. He is cross-entered in an optional $40,000 claimer on turf at Delaware on July 4.

General Perfect finds a more realistic spot for his 2012 debut after three straight graded stakes appearances to close out 2011, including the Grade 1 United Nations and Grade 1 Arlington Million.