07/21/2012 2:42PM

Mountaineer: Lack of turf form makes handicapping difficult


West Virginia-breds get a rare opportunity to compete on turf against fellow statebreds in a pair of seven-furlong allowances for nonwinners-of-two lifetime on Monday night’s card at Mountaineer Racetrack. The fact that both fields are full of horses with little or no turf experience makes races 3 and 4 on the program pretty much a guessing game for handicappers.

The logical choice among nine runners in the third race is Grand Family, who raced above his conditions in a nonwinners-of-three and outran his 14-1 odds to get second, beaten a half-length, in his turf debut two weeks ago. Leading rider Deshawn Parker retains the mount.

Those looking for a better price could land on the 3-year-old Alchemized or 4-year-old Charles Town shipper R.J. Says.

Alchemized finished fourth of 10 in his only previous try on grass last August at Louisiana Downs. His sire, Osidy, won a 6 1/2-furlong turf stakes in California and was Group 3-placed in France. Although bred in Louisiana, Alchemized is eligible under the “raiser rule,” in which foals born in other states but moved to West Virginia by a certain age become accredited statebreds.

R.J. Says was entered to run on turf against open maiden special weight company last August, but the race was transferred to the main track. Notably, his trainer, George Yetsook, won at Mountaineer last season with first-time turfer Spanish Affair at odds of 6-1.

The fourth race is even more inscrutable, with the nine-horse field a combined 2 for 10 on turf. Exactly half of that experience belongs to 4-year-old City Strike, who came in from Charles Town to win his turf debut sprinting five furlongs a year ago. He will now try to stretch out an additional quarter-mile after a dull effort sprinting against open company a month ago.

Bettors seeking an alternative will likely focus on Kuff Em, who was denied his second lifetime victory last time out when he wired three opponents in a dirt sprint at Thistletown, only to be disqualified for drifting out. He did collect his only official lifetime win in August 2010 sprinting five furlongs on turf.

The 5-year-old mare Silent Honor may be a live longshot. Although winless in 18 starts on dirt and synthetic surfaces, she was up close through the first seven furlongs of her most recent start on Presque Isle’s Tapeta, and her dam’s sire, Double Honor, was a five-time Group 1 and Group 2 winner in South Africa.