09/02/2008 12:00AM

Surface swap fine for Podgy


The new era of synthetic racetracks has heightened the need for versatility, which is good news for some horses and not so good for others. In the case of a 5-year-old gelding named Podgy, who went 2 for 2 on dirt at the recently ended Ellis Park meet, the switch to Polytrack at Turfway Park doesn't necessarily mean an automatic end to his modest win streak.

Podgy, based at Ellis with 70-year-old trainer Bobby Larue, is one of 11 horses entered in the Thursday feature at Turfway in Florence, Ky. In consideration of his sharp recent form at Ellis, along with some of his prior races over synthetics, he looks like one of the logical favorites in the ninth of 10 races, which carries a $26,000 purse and will be run at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"I think the horse will run good again," said Larue, a trainer since 1963. "He likes any racetrack you put him on."

From six career starts on Polytrack, Podgy has two wins but probably should have a third, said Larue, noting a close-up fourth-place finish in an April 10 sprint at Keeneland. "He was seven wide and flying, and he really could have won with a better trip," he said.

Podgy, with Fernando De La Cruz to ride, will break from post 4 in the Thursday feature.

Podgy tends to do his best after lurking just off the pace, and there is plenty of speed Thursday to facilitate his stretch run. Among those early goers are My Private Lake, who ended his summer campaign at Indiana Downs with back-to-back front-running wins; Grease Monkey, runner-up in the Forego Stakes at Turfway in January; and Chillin Villain, most recently third behind Podgy in an Aug. 15 allowance after leading most of the way.

Late-run threats include Pinecrest Inn, second in the Claiming Crown Express at Canterbury Park in his last start, and Solo Cat, who gets Miguel Mena while returning from a layoff of nearly five months.

The race conditions for the Thursday feature are a second-level allowance or a $40,000 claiming option. Six of the 11 are in for the claiming price, including Podgy, My Private Lake, and Chillin Villain.