07/20/2006 11:00PM

Not much to go on in Punch Line


A $60,000 purse may sound like a modest amount of money for a restricted stakes. But it's a potential big payday for the group of Virginia-breds entered for Sunday's Punch Line at Colonial Downs.

The five-furlong turf stakes drew a field of eight, including one coupled entry. All of them are still eligible for a first-level allowance, and among the three multiple winners, their highest achievement has been to capture a conditioned claiming race.

With little to no success on grass for the entrants, plus extremely low Tomlinson turf ratings for all of the lightly raced runners, the Punch Line becomes a guessing game for handicappers.

The best turf form belongs to recent maiden winner Catenare and a pair of horses who beat nonwinners-of-three claimers the last time they ran on grass, Sandys Gold and Swayin.

Catenare, a 4-year-old trained by Susan Cooney, was no better than third in four starts against maidens last season. But he came back running after an 11-month layoff to wire eight maiden special weight rivals, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 72 that looks pretty good in comparison to his Punch Line competition.

Sandys Gold, a nonthreatening seventh when he tried first-level allowance horses on turf at Laurel last March, woke up and wired $16,000 conditioned claimers on turf by three lengths July 2, earning a Beyer Figure of 75. He was no factor against statebreds in a dirt sprint stakes a week later.

Swayin was winless in his first six starts - five on grass - since being claimed by trainer Phil Schoenthal for $15,000 in March. He responded to a drop in class to the $12,000 claiming level to score by a half-length on July 11, earning a 71 Beyer.

Swayin is coupled with Sir Chip, who has raced at nine or 10 furlongs in his last three starts. Swayin was scratched out of a $16,000 claiming race with a $12,500 purse Friday at Colonial.