07/14/2010 6:15PM

Oft-claimed Smooth Tango goes for Mountaineer repeat


If racehorses had theme songs, then the 1961 hit “The Wanderer” by Dion and the Belmonts would be a natural fit for Smooth Tango.

Now 8, Smooth Tango has been claimed six times since Dec. 31, 2008, including three times since coming to Mountaineer Racetrack in May 2009.

Smooth Tango, who has been with Craig Cox for only about a month, looks to make it two in a row for his latest owner-trainer in Tuesday night’s featured fourth race, a first-level allowance scheduled for 7 1/2 furlongs on turf.

In a 51-race career, Smooth Tango is just 2 for 20 on turf, but usually is competitive, as evidenced by his 7 second- and 5 third-place finishes.

This spring, Smooth Tango was claimed for $7,500 in back-to-back starts, most recently on June 6 out of an off-the-turf 4 1/2-furlong sprint that he won by 6 1/4 lengths. In two turf starts since then, Smooth Tango faded to fifth running for a $15,000 claiming tag and led wire to wire at the same distance as Tuesday’s race at the $10,000 level.

Challenger and El Windo, two horses with hidden turf form, could pose the stiffest challenges for Smooth Tango in the main body of 10 runners.

Challenger, from the barn of leading trainer Doug Shanyfelt, has raced on turf only twice in his 19-race career. He was pulled up to avoid a spill last time out, the only grass race that shows among his last 12 past performances. But last May, Challenger was talented enough to earn a 72 Beyer Speed Figure, close to the par of 74 for a first-level allowance at Mountaineer, while beaten 1 1/4 lengths for a $10,000 tag.

El Windo has been racing at Charles Town, which has only a dirt track, and his recent psat performances don’t show any grass lines either. But last season, he earned Beyers of 75, 73, and 74 racing against good competition at Belmont and Gulfstream. If he can run back to any of those efforts, El Windo will be a serious contender in this spot.

Doneraile’s Peak, second with a 76 Beyer on June 21, and Rosa Pantera, who comes off a career-best 72 Beyer when fourth going a mile and 70 yards on June 27, are two others who have a reasonable shot of winning.