08/05/2010 12:55PM

Ruffino challenging local aces in Genesee Valley


Beijing House and Remarkable Storm, two horses who have made the most of their limited opporutnities racing at Finger Lakes, will see if their familiarity with the local surface is enough of an advantage over talented Saratoga shipper Ruffino in Saturday’s $50,000 Genesee Valley Breeders’ Stakes.

The 1 1/16-mile Genesee Valley, restricted to New York-breds, drew a field of nine, including a coupled entry for trainer Luis Gonzalez.

The 5-year-old Beijing House has raced on turf in 10 of 14 starts he has made over the last two seasons. Oddly, he is 0 for 10 lifetime on grass, but 6 for 18 on dirt, including a 2-for-3 record at Finger Lakes. In his most recent local outing on May 21, Beijing House spotted the field 11 lengths when he broke in the air, but still managed to win by 4 1/4 lengths going a mile and 70 yards in a second-level optional $10,000 claimer restricted to statebreds. His only local victory came sprinting in August 2008.

The 4-year-old Remarkable Storm, formerly with John Parisella, was only 2 for 22 lifetime until coming to James Acquilino’s barn this spring. He has won 3 of 4 starts, all in wire-to-wire fashion, since making his Finger Lakes debut in early May. He may have difficulty getting an uncontested lead on Saturday, however, thanks to the presence of stretch-out sprinters Too Tough Pete, Marsh Dawg, and Overextended.

Ruffino is the logical favorite, based on his good form at Belmont and Aqueduct. A 7-year-old gelding, Ruffino won a statebred stakes going a mile and was second in the $250,000 Empire Classic going 1 1/8 miles last fall, both times racing over sloppy tracks. He makes the second start of his current form cycle after being up close for a mile and then weakening in the nine-furlong Evan Shipman at Saratoga.

Ruffino’s trainer, James Bond, shipped in Tommasi twice to contest the Genesee Valley. Tommasi finished second by a neck in 2006 and was third as the 4-5 favorite last year.

The most intriguing of the horses stretching out is Marsh Dawg, a 4-year-old who has been no worse than second in 9 of 12 starts. His trainer, Donna Bireta, is 3 for 18 with horses who have raced within the last 30 days making their first start in a route, including a winner at 19-1 earlier this season.