09/08/2011 1:58PM

Presque Isle Downs: Many factors to consider in Masters

Coady Photography/Keeneland
Shotgun Gulch dislikes being on the inside of horses but has drawn the rail in the Grade 2 Masters.

Shotgun Gulch could improve with her regular rider back aboard Saturday when she goes postward as one of the top contenders in the highlight of the Presque Isle Downs meet, the Grade 2, $400,000 Masters. The 6 1/2-furlong Masters attracted 15 entries but only 12 fillies and mares will be allowed to start.

PRESQUE ISLE MASTERS: Get PPs, watch full Saturday card live

Three starts ago, the 4-year-old Shotgun Gulch won the Grade 1 Madison at Keeneland for trainer C.R. Trout. She has not fared as well in her last two starts, finishing an even fifth in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on May  7 and seventh in the Grade  2 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park on July  16.

Trout attributes her last two performances to the inside trips she received.

“She absolutely hates being down on the inside of horses, always has,” Trout said. “She was taken to the inside in her last and the hole closed up and there you are, stuck.”

Luis Quinonez, who has ridden Shotgun Gulch in 12 of her 19 starts, will be back aboard in the Masters, which will be run over Presque Isle’s Tapeta surface. He did not ride Shotgun Gulch in her last three races. He will have to overcome the inside post in the Masters.

“He knows to keep her to the outside,” Trout said. “She is very versatile and can stay up closer or lay farther back with a quick pace. We’ll see how it sets up.”

Jenny’s So Great has posted two bullet works at Woodbine since being transferred to trainer Danny O’Callaghan in early August. The 4-year-old filly comes into the Masters off a win in the Grade 3 Royal North, a six-furlong turf event at Woodbine, for trainer Gregory De Gannes. O’Callaghan, who wins 21 percent of his races when horses make their first start for him, said he hasn’t changed anything.

“She is just doing really, really well right now,” he said. “Off her works I expect a big race from her.”

Her regular rider, Jesse Campbell, will be in for the mount.

Musical Romance finished sixth in her only start over a synthetic track, which came in February 2010, but trainer Bill Kaplan doesn’t see that as a problem.

“The one time she was on it was early in her 3-year-old year, it was two turns, and the rider kept her really wide,” he said. “She is a much better, calmer horse now, and I don’t feel it will matter. She has been over it and seems to love it here.”

Musical Romance shipped in early Wednesday morning from Calder and has jogged over the Presque Isle surface. Three races ago, Musical Romance closed late in the Grade  1 Princess Rooney to miss by a neck. The added sixteenth of a mile in the Masters will be helpful, according to Kaplan.

“I think it is her perfect distance,” he said. “It is a big plus for us.”

The Masters tops the biggest weekend of racing at the Erie, Pa., track. Presque Isle Downs purses are supplemented by revenue from 2,000 slot machines in its casino. First post is 3 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.