09/06/2006 11:00PM

Polytrack lures Honor in War off turf

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Bill Denver / EQUI-PHOTOS
Honor in War will make his first non-grass start in nearly four years on Saturday.

One positive that Polytrack brings to racing's table is its role as a catalyst for rare matchups. If not for Polytrack, a grass horse such as millionaire Honor in War probably never would race against contemporaries such as Gouldings Green, Alumni Hall, Greater Good, and some of the other accomplished dirt runners he will face Saturday.

Many trainers have come to view Polytrack as a fair middle ground for turf specialists versus their dirt counterparts, and that hypothesis figures to get quite a workout in the Grade 3, $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship.

Thirteen horses, one more than what will be permitted to start, were entered in the first stakes of the Turfway fall meet. Honor in War, who hasn't raced on anything but turf since Sept. 20, 2002, was assigned post 2 in the one-mile race, and trainer Paul McGee said that, partly because of the favorable draw, he definitely will run the 7-year-old horse at Turfway instead of at Arlington Park, where Honor in War is cross-entered for Saturday.

Owned by the Third Turn Stable of Will Wolford and partners, Honor in War will be making his first start since finishing eighth, beaten just four lengths, in the May 6 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, a Grade 1 race he captured as a 4-year-old. Brice Blanc has accepted the mount and thus will become the 15th jockey to ride the horse.

Probably the most dangerous foe for Honor in War is Gouldings Green, a 5-year-old who might well be the favorite because of his terrific recent form. Gouldings Green already has three stakes wins this year, including a 2 1/4-length victory in a Grade 3 race on the Woodbine inner track last out.

"He's one of those horses who gives you 120 percent every time you lead him over," said trainer Tony Reinstedler. "I'm very happy with him right now."

Gouldings Green trained for about six weeks this summer over the Oklahoma track at Saratoga. He recently returned to his main base, Churchill Downs, although Reinstedler shipped the horse to Turfway last Saturday for a half-mile breeze that was completed in a bullet 46.80 seconds.

Jockey Corey Lanerie, who on Monday won the Cradle Stakes at nearby River Downs aboard Passport, returns to the area by taking a return call on Gouldings Green.

Alumni Hall, an earner of more than $720,000, and Greater Good, nearing the $550,000 mark, help to round out an excellent cast.