10/03/2007 11:00PM

Ohio's best clash in five stakes

EmailGROVE CITY, Ohio - Ohio-breds take center stage on opening weekend of Beulah Park's fall meet with the Best of Ohio series.

Two $100,000 stakes and three $75,000 stakes, all restricted to Ohio-breds, will be contested as the last five races on Saturday's live card.

Catlaunch will try to make it three in a row in the featured $100,000 Best of Ohio Endurance at 1 1/4 miles. Trained by Ivan Vazquez, the 6-year-old Catlaunch has 5 wins and 3 seconds in 8 starts this year. He was impressive last time out when he tried 1 1/4 miles for the first time in the $75,000 Governors Buckeye Handicap at Thistledown on Sept. 3. Catlaunch led to upper stretch, where he was overtaken by Pyrite Personal, then came again and won by nearly two lengths.

Acts Like a King, the favorite in the Governors Buckeye, will try to turn the tables on Catlaunch. Acts Like a King, trained by Kris Nemann, won the George Lewis Memorial on July 14 at Thistledown by 2 3/4 lengths, earning a 96 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest recent Beyer in the field. He then came back in the Governors Buckeye, but lost a shoe in the race and finished seventh, beaten some 30 lengths.

Acts Like a King had a bullet work at River Downs on Tuesday.

Pyrite Personal won three in a row, including the Green Carpet at River Downs and the Cleveland Gold Cup at Thistledown, prior to being beaten in the Governors Buckeye. He has finished in the money in all eight of his starts this year.

* Pay the Man has won her last two outings, both at the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Best of Ohio Distaff, and she will be a heavy favorite in the $100,000 Distaff. Trained by Miguel Feliciano, Pay the Man has won 3 of her last 4 starts by a combined 27 1/2 lengths. Her only loss in that span came against males in the Cleveland Gold Cup, where she finished second. Easy victories in the $100,000 Queen City Oaks at River Downs on July 21 and the $75,000 Rose DeBartolo at Thistledown on Sept. 1 make her formidable in this spot.

* In the $75,000 Best of Ohio Sprint, trainer Mike Maker sends out a strong entry in Dooze, winner of his last two, including the Honey Jay at Thistledown on Sept. 15, and Trophy Road, winner of 2 of 3 starts this year. Trophy Road won an allowance race in his first outing of the year by more than 12 lengths July 9 at Thistledown, and came back to win an open allowance at River Downs, earning Beyers of 96 and 97.

In his most recent start, Trophy Road finished fourth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths in the $100,000 Tom Ridge at Presque Isle Downs on Sept. 3. Trophy Road has had two bullet works at Churchill Downs since that race.

* Perfectly Played, trained by Jeff Radosevich, will be tough to beat in the $75,000 Best of Ohio Juvenile. Perfectly Played won his debut in the $50,000 Cleveland Kindergarten on Aug. 11, then came back to run an even fourth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths in an entry-level allowance at Presque Isle on Sept. 7. The first- and second-place finishers in that race, Sok Sok and Little Nick, came back to run first and third in the $100,000 Fitz Dixon at Presque Isle on Sept. 29.

The big unknown in the Juvenile concerns the 1o1/16-mile distance. Only one entrant, Shakeyogroovething, has gone two turns.

* In the $75,000 John W. Galbreath Memorial for 2-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles, Feliciano sends out the two horses with the highest last-race Beyers.

Pyriteville earned a 67 Beyer for winning the Miss Ohio at Thistledown on Aug. 25. Pyrite Marci won a statebred maiden race Sept. 9 by 2o1/2 lengths at Thistledown, earning a Beyer of 70.