08/31/2013 3:07PM

Presque Isle: Lunar Rock, Whiskey Rebellion try Tapeta, cut back to sprint


Lunar Rock launched his 3-year-old campaign by finishing third in a pair of stakes in Maryland. Whiskey Rebellion most recently won going a two-turn mile in Ohio.

Both horses have little or no experience racing on synthetic surfaces, however, and will try to transfer their dirt form to the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs while cutting back sharply in distance for Tuesday’s $37,000 feature.

The 3-year-old Lunar Rock and 4-year-old Whiskey Rebellion are among six horses in a second-level optional $40,000 claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs. It goes as the opener on the card at 5:25 p.m. Eastern.

Lunar Rock will be racing on a synthetic surface for the first time and making his first start since early March. All three of his 2013 starts came in stakes at Laurel Park, highlighted by third-place finishes in the seven-furlong Frank Whitley and the one-mile Miracle Wood.

Lunar Rock’s trainer, Dale Capuano, is 8 for 50 (16 percent) with horses making their first start on a synthetic surface. Notably, Capuano has given the mount on Lunar Rock to Jose Garcia, who is 5 for 10 with the runners he has been aboard for the Maryland-based trainer at Presque Isle.

Whiskey Rebellion rises slightly in class after scoring by a neck in an optional $30,000 claiming route at Thistledown on July 27. His best performance in three tries on synthetics came last February, when he held the lead at the stretch call but wound up fourth in a 6 1/2-furlong race at Turfway Park at the same level as Tuesday’s feature.

Whiskey Rebellion’s trainer, Jeff Radosevich, is 3 for 14 (21 percent) with a $2.32 return on investment with horses switching from dirt to synthetic and routes to sprints.

The two logical favorites are Dazzled Saint, an eight-time winner at Presque Isle, and Evil Doer, who has been part of the exacta in 9 of 15 starts locally.

Dazzled Saint won at this same level two starts ago by three lengths, earning a 91 Beyer Speed Figure. Evil Doer comes off a neck defeat against tougher company, a performance that was worth a career-best 95 Beyer.

Grand Old Game, second by a neck going 5 1/2 furlongs locally in May, and Evacuation, second and third against softer company in his first two starts locally after shipping in from New York, complete the lineup.