12/23/2008 12:00AM

Ravalo must fend off Eternal Star


Maryland-based sprinters Ravalo and Eternal Star, both coming off a sharp effort that produced a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure, are the prime contenders in Saturday night's $75,000 Christmas Stakes at Mountaineer Racetrack.

The six-furlong stakes, which goes as race 8 on a nine-race card, drew a field of 11, including the Jeff Radosevich-trained coupled entry of Pforperfectpistol and Perfectly Played.

The 4-year-old Ravalo led wire to wire in last year's Christmas, earning a career-best Beyer Figure of 104, but he had to beat only four rivals.

Ravalo, trained by Donald Barr, will be shortening to six furlongs after finishing second as the 9-5 pacesetter in last month's Mountaineer Mile, earning a 103 Beyer. Researcher, the horse who narrowly defeated Ravalo, returned to win the Grade 3 Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct.

Eternal Star, the even-money favorite on the track's morning line, has enjoyed a sterling 2008 season, winning 6 of 9 starts, including stakes at Philadelphia Park, Delaware Park, and Saratoga. He will be making the third start of his form cycle for trainer Mike Trombetta after rallying for second in the Grade 3 Sport Page Handicap at Aqueduct and winning a high-priced optional claimer at Laurel with a career-best Beyer of 109.

Notably, Trombetta is 4 for 6 with male sprinters coming off a winning effort while earning a Beyer top, including stakes wins with Eternal Star.

The only other horse in the Christmas field capable of running a triple-digit Beyer is Night Stand. He is cross-entered in Saturday's Grade 3 Gravesend at Aqueduct.

Idle since Nov. 1, Night Stand was beaten just two lengths by Ravalo over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs in June. Trained by Jose Gallegos, he has prepped for this spot with a pair of five-furlong bullets at his home track of Philadelphia Park.