10/17/2007 11:00PM

Ritter sends out unbeaten West Coast Swing

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - WinStar Farm usually gives its best horses to Todd Pletcher or Bill Mott or some other big-time trainer, with Shannon Ritter among those getting the proverbial hand-me-downs. But when the $300,000 Raven Run Stakes is run for the ninth time Saturday at Keeneland, it will be Ritter who saddles unbeaten West Coast Swing, the lukewarm favorite in the Grade 2 race.

West Coast Swing, a winner of all three of her starts, was assigned post 7 as one of 14 3-year-old fillies entered in the Raven Run, a seven-furlong Polytrack race that anchors a 10-race Saturday card.

Ritter is a former longtime assistant to Elliott Walden, who retired from training several years ago to become the vice president of racing and bloodstock services for WinStar. She said West Coast Swing initially "may have had some issues," which apparently dissuaded the WinStar brass from placing the filly with a more prominent trainer. "I guess she's one that kind of slipped through the cracks."

West Coast Swing evidently has overcome whatever problems she may have had: She earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure in capturing her latest race, the Prairie Meadows Oaks five weeks ago. Since then, the filly has migrated with Ritter's 14-horse stable from her summer-long training base at Arlington Park to Keeneland, where "she really has been doing good," said Ritter.

West Coast Swing, a homebred by Gone West, figures to have to run another huge one to notch a fourth straight win. The Raven Run, which has been won by such standouts as Darling My Darling (2000) and Sightseek (2002), has come up extremely deep as usual, and handicappers will have a dazzling array of alternative plays.

Among those challengers are Exciting Justice, a winner of her last three starts, ending with the Weekend Delight that earned her a 97 Beyer over Polytrack at Turfway Park; Mini Sermon, a winner of two small stakes for the Pletcher powerhouse; and Seaside Affair, a drawing-off winner of the Torrey Pines over Polytrack at Del Mar in her last start.

Super Freaky, the multiple stakes-winning California filly who drew post 6, was expected to run here Friday in the Valley View Stakes and scratch from the Raven Run.