06/26/2006 11:00PM

Second win within sight for Murch


LOUISVILE, Ky. - Murch needed 10 starts to win his first race, but he might need only one more start to win his second. After winning his maiden on turf at Churchill Downs on May 26, when he earned an 83 Beyer Speed Figure, Murch is favored to win his second straight race Thursday in the featured eighth race at Churchill Downs, a first-level allowance going 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Based on speed figures and experience, Murch seems to have caught a below-average field. Of his nine opponents, none has earned a Beyer higher than 80 on turf; the Beyer par for the level is in the mid-80's. Additionally, several key rivals have little or no experience racing on grass.

A 3-year-old son of Mr. Greeley, has shown steady improvement this year. After running fourth in his season debut at Gulfstream on April 7, he ran second in an off-the-turf race at Churchill in the slop May 11, and then ran down The Max to pick up his first victory May 26.

Murch has since recorded two breezes: a bullet half-mile in 48 seconds at Churchill Downs Trackside June 8 and an easy 51.40 breeze there June 17. Rafael Bejarano rides for trainer Helen Pitts.

has the second-best last-race turf figure in the field, an 80, but that was earned when he finished sixth in a good allowance field at Gulfstream on Jan. 20. He has not raced since.

has the speed figures to challenge if he can transfer his form from dirt to turf and respond to racing on less than two weeks' rest. He comes off a runner-up finish in a main-track allowance June 17, when he earned a career-best 86 Beyer.

Polarity is the first foal to race out of a dam that was unplaced in her lone start on turf. The offspring of his sire, Northern Afleet, are 7 for 65 in their grass debuts.

Another horse scheduled to try turf racing for the first time is Beaufort, who beat Murch in a race transferred from turf to a sloppy track May 11. Beaufort also ran second in an allowance race taken off the grass June 2.

Music From Heaven and Smokeyjonessutton are entered for the main track only. If rain forces the race off the turf, Smokeyjonessutton would figure prominently after running a close fourth to next-out winner Chief Export in a stronger first-level allowance May 24.