03/16/2013 12:39PM

Mountaineer: Russian Greek trying to regain best form

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Stacia Mumm/Vassar Photography
Russian Greek, winner of the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields in January 2012, has raced just once since last April's Blue Grass Stakes and failed to complete the course.

Russian Greek, the winner of a $100,000 stakes in California last year, and Thunder Lord, the runner-up in a pair of stakes worth $75,000 or more during his last two racing campaigns, bring more than a touch of back class to Monday night’s allowance feature at Mountaineer Racetrack.

Both horses come into the $28,000 race, a one-mile event for nonwinners of four lifetime, following a break of more than two months. The question of fitness is especially relevant to the 4-year-old Russian Greek, whose first start since last April was cut short at Turfway Park in January when he pulled up after a quarter-mile and was vanned off.

A pair of bullet workouts a week apart in February at the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Ky., indicate that Russian Greek is fine physically.

A synthetic-surface specialist, Russian Greek will be racing on dirt for the first time since he won his career debut sprinting six furlongs at Santa Rosa on the Northern California fair circuit.

When he was trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Russian Greek won the $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields. In his lone start after being transferred to the barn of Russian-born trainer Gennadi Dorochenko, Russian Greek finished 11th of 13 in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. He is now trained by Jim Corrigan.

The 6-year-old Thunder Lord was unraced at 2 and made just one start at 3, finishing 10th on turf at Woodbine. Sent to Jose Corrales in Maryland, Thunder Lord responded by going a combined 3 for 12 in 2011 and 2012. Highlights included a nose loss in a $75,000 overnight stakes at Parx Racing and a second in the $77,000 John Campbell Handicap at Laurel Park.

Unraced since he was fourth in the Broad Brush at Laurel on Dec. 31, Thunder Lord merits respect based on Corrales’s past success shipping to Mountaineer, where he is 3 for 8 (38 percent) since 2011.

The seven-horse field also includes Voodoo Storm, who makes the third start of his current form cycle after rallying from 10 lengths behind to just miss in a five-furlong sprint on opening night at Mountaineer. His trainer, Joe Woodard, is 6 for his last 19 (32 percent) with horses switching from sprints to routes in their third start following a layoff.

Deshawn Parker, Mountaineer’s perennial leading rider, was named on both Voodoo Storm and Russian Greek, but has elected to ride Voodoo Storm. Christian Pilares has picked up the mount on Russian Greek.