11/13/2010 2:52PM

Sophomore Sprint a guessing game

Four-Footed Fotos
Dixie Band is 3 for 4 on Polytrack, including the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity in 2009, but just 1 for 4 on dirt coming into the Sophomore Sprint Stakes.

Good recent sprint form on dirt is a scarce commodity among the nine 3-year-olds scheduled to contest Tuesday night’s ninth running of the $75,000 Sophomore Sprint Stakes at Mountaineer Racetrack.

As a group, these runners are a collective 4 for 31 at the six-furlong distance of Tuesday’s race. The best record at the distance belongs to You Do, a Finger Lakes-based horse who is 2 for 3 in his brief career, with a top Beyer Speed Figure of 74. He is an uncertain starter, however. Trainer Neil Kovar has cross-entered You Do in an optional $25,000 claimer on Wednesday night at Penn National, where he is listed as a 12-1 outsider on the track’s morning line.

The only other horse in the field to have won going six furlongs is Hunter’s Roar, a Thistledown-based colt who just won his maiden in his 11th try with a modest 49 Beyer that seems way too slow to be competitive in a $75,000 stakes.

Dixie Band is the likely favorite, based on the classy company he has kept. A Grade 3 stakes winner at 2 on Polytrack, Dixie Band is 3 for 4 on synthetics, but just 1 for 4 on dirt. He has been off since finishing third in an optional $50,000 claimer at Ellis Park in late August, earning an 85 Beyer that looks pretty good in this spot.

Dixie Band’s trainer, Wayne Catalano, does show a 15-for-54 record (28 percent) with sprinters returning from a break of 61 to 180 days, including a win by this son of Dixie Union on July 4 at Churchill Downs.

Southern California import Precious Duke steps way up in class after surrendering the lead late in a $10,000 claimer at Fairplex Park in his first try on dirt. He is 3 for 9 on synthetic surfaces, including a runner-up finish going seven furlongs on the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park, which many say closely resembles dirt.

Meadow Magic, a two-time restricted stakes winner at Pinnacle in Michigan this season, cuts back in distance after a three-length score going 1 1/16 miles in last month’s Michigan Sire Stakes. He is 0 for 3 at six furlongs, but did win his first start of the year going five furlongs.

The locally based Tuffy Cottrell has won 2 of his last 3 starts. Both wins were at 5 1/2 furlongs. He is 0 for 4 in six-furlong races.