11/01/2001 1:00AM

Mountaineer Park


Saratoga Games has had the misfortune of running into a couple of monsters in his last two starts, but in Saturday's $70,000 Mountaineer Mile Handicap at Mountaineer Park his opponents are considerably less scary. Saratoga Games, a 3-year-old making his first start against older horses, is part of a field of 12 in the Mile.

Saratoga Games chased Western Pride around the track in the $500,000 West Virginia Derby in August at Mountaineer Park, and finished second. Saratoga Games finished in front of graded stakes winners Thunder Blitz and Outofthebox in that 1 1/8-mile race.

Saratoga Games, trained by Anthony Dutrow, didn't race again until almost two months later in the $314,000 Indiana Derby, a 1 1/16-mile race at Hoosier Park, finishing second to Breeders' Cup Classic participant Orientate.

Before those races, Saratoga Games won three straight, all at Pimlico, including the Honor Guard and the H.S. Finney.

With several sprinters entered in the Mile, Saratoga Games should fall into a stalking spot under jockey Mario Pino.

Mountaineer Mile entrants Nature and Winning Connection have each won a stakes at the Chester, W. Va., track. Nature comes off a neck victory over Mort, who also is in Saturday's race, in the 1 1/4-mile Fall Handicap. Winning Connection edged Nature by a head in the West Virginia Governors Handicap, run at 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 11. In his last start, Winning Connection ran fourth in a much tougher field in the $100,000 Broad Brush at The Meadowlands.