05/16/2007 11:00PM

Plan B for Coach Jimi Lee


Chicago-based trainer Jim DiVito wanted to run his star sprinter Coach Jimi Lee in the $50,000 Prairie Express in Iowa on Kentucky Derby Day. When the stakes failed to fill, DiVito began looking around for an alternative.

DiVito's Plan B will bring Coach Jimi Lee to Mountaineer Racetrack in Chester, W.Va., for Saturday night's $75,000 Waterford Park Handicap at six furlongs.

A 7-year-old multiple stakes winner with $860,498 in earnings, Coach Jimi Lee has not raced since last October. He won 3 of 5 starts in 2006, all in stakes, while posting triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures four times.

Although DiVito doesn't ship to Mountaineer often, he has had some success at the track, winning the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies with Lizzy's Township in August 2005 and a first-level allowance with Dormy Lake in January 2006.

On paper, Coach Jimi Lee is by far the fastest horse in a field of eight older sprinters. As the 124-pound highweight, however, he must concede between 7 and 16 pounds to his rivals.

"Weight is always a concern," DiVito said. "He has carried 124 and won before, but I don't know that he gave away that much weight when he did it."

DiVito said that as long as the track isn't too loose, Coach Jimi Lee should handle a new surface.

"I think he'll be fine," DiVito said. "We've got him ready."

The only other two horses in the Waterford with a sprint Beyer of 100 or better in his last 10 starts are Smalltown Slew and Bernie Blue.

Smalltown Slew, a deep closer, was second in two sprint stakes early in the Fair Grounds meet, but hasn't been close in two starts since he was claimed for $75,000 by trainer Bernie Flint. Flint, however, is always dangerous when he brings a horse into Mountaineer for a stakes, having won 7 of 23 since January 2005.

Bernie Blue, winner of the Mountain State locally with a 100 Beyer last July, will be coming back two weeks after pressing pacesetter Fabulous Strike in his 118 Beyer victory in the Panhandle Handicap.