06/27/2012 1:43PM

Northlands: Bensmiller has tough pair in Donegal County and Rum Ruckus in Friday feature


Trainer Twylla Bensmiller isn’t sure which of her horses she likes better, Donegal County or Rum Ruckus, in a first-level allowance race that drew five horses at Northlands Park Friday. The six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up goes as the second race on an eight-race card that begins at 6 p.m. Mountain.

Donegal County has been installed as the 7-5 favorite, but Bensmiller isn’t sure the 5-year-old gelding really wants to sprint.

“I would like to stretch him out but there hasn’t been a race for him,” she said.

Nonetheless, Bensmiller is expecting Donegal County to run an improved race. He finished fourth in a similar race June 1 and it was his first start since he finished 10th in an 11-horse field when he tried turf for the first time last July 31 at Ellis Park. Donegal County signaled his readiness with bullet works on June 17 and 24.

“He may have needed the race and he was very sharp in his last couple of works,” she said.

Donegal County won his previous start at Northlands for Bensmiller in 2010. Following his Northlands win in a maiden special weight race he was sent to Churchill Downs where his best finish in three races was a third in a first-level allowance race on June 3, 2011.

Nela Mohammed rides Donegal County.

Rum Ruckus is a sharp horse, and the presence of leading rider Rico Walcott adds to his appeal. Rum Ruckus toyed with is rivals in his first start this year, romping by 6 1/2 lengths in a $22,000 maiden claiming race. He followed up his sharp win with a second-place finish in a first-level allowance race June 15.

“He is also doing really well and I just think they are both going to be tough,” said Bensmiller.

Storm’s Battle looks like the main threat to the uncoupled Bensmiller entry.

Trained by Alfred Webster, Storm’s Battle ran a much-improved race when he set a blistering pace before tiring to finish third in the same race Donegal County exits. He could be dangerous if apprentice jockey Scott Williams can get him to settle early.

Silent Sam, trained by Albert Strumecki, will appreciate the easier company after finishing fifth in a $32,000 optional claiming race June 23. He came close to winning at this level in his first start this year and he followed his big effort with a fifth-place finish in a similar race June 8.

Southview Invader rounds out the field.