11/04/2010 12:44PM

Russell Road travels to Mountaineer for Mile


Russell Road, arguably the best horse on the grounds at Charles Town the past two seasons, makes a rare appearance outside his home track when he travels to the opposite side of West Virginia for Saturday night’s $125,000 Mountaineer Mile at Mountaineer Racetrack.

Although he is 15 for 21 at Charles Town, including the $450,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic as a 3-year-old in 2009, Russell Road is 0 for 2 on the road, beaten 10 or more lengths while finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct and fifth again in a high-priced optional claimer at Laurel Park. Russell Road is coming off a fourth-place finish as the 1-10 favorite three weeks ago in the 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Breeders’ Classic. A two-turn mile is much closer to the two-turn seven-furlong races in which he has run his best over Charles Town’s bullring.

The field also includes the speedy Shadowbdancing, horse-for-the-course Cryptolight, and the sharp stretch-out sprinter Be Bullish.

Shadowbdancing romped by eight in his first visit to Mountaineer in the 2009 West Virginia Governor’s Cup. Sent off as the 6-5 favorite in this year’s running of the $125,000 stakes on the basis of his win in the Grade 2 Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows, Shadowbdancing was eased and finished last. He’s coming off a similarly dull effort, beaten more than 52 lengths, in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup.

Cryptolight, third in last year’s Mountaineer Mile, has been first or second in 9 of 13 starts locally. He returns to dirt following an off-the-board performance over the synthetic Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs in late September.

Be Bullish, claimed for $50,000 by high-percentage trainer Chris Englehart in July, tries a longer distance after back-to-back runner-up efforts sprinting in New York-bred stakes at Belmont Park. Englehart is a lofty 7 for 12 (58 percent) with horses shipping into Mountaineer and switching from sprints to routes.