08/13/2004 12:00AM

River Downs: 'Challanger' favored on turf


Brent's Challanger, the Ohio-bred who scored an upset last out in the Sydney Gendelman Handicap in June, returns in the $40,000 Buckeye Native Stakes at River Downs.

For an Ohio-sired and Ohio-bred stakes, the Buckeye Native, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on turf, has attracted a surprisingly deep field. Brent's Challanger, who has won his last three starts and is perfect in two starts over the local turf course, is the deserving favorite and logical winner if the race remains on the turf. If there is a switch to the main track, however, or should Brent's Challanger have an off day, the race becomes a wide-open scramble.

Brother Darcy recently won his first turf race, but is a more accomplished runner over the main track. He was a 4 1/2-length winner of last year's Buckeye Native, which was switched from the turf course to the main track.

An intriguing entrant is Woodburner, a dominant winner of the 2003 Horizon Stakes in his only start on turf. Though unraced since January, he has been working strongly the last seven weeks at his Arlington Park base.

The presence of 3-year-olds Best Bird and Child of Light, who finished one-two in the Horizon Stakes, make the Buckeye Native a clash between generations, but they will have to improve dramatically to defeat their elders.

Hank's Rib and Scout Me are not to be overlooked if the Buckeye Native is run on dirt.