07/03/2006 11:00PM

Three favorites fall at Mountaineer


A filly trained by Todd Pletcher and a pair of longshots combined to foil the favorites in all three stakes on Monday night's card at Mountaineer Race Track.

The Pletcher-trained Stormina ($7), a French import who had won 2 of her 3 starts this season, caught 2-1 favorite Lady Grace in the final strides to win the $75,000 Firecracker for fillies and mares by a head.

The 8-year-old Lady Grace, the local queen of the turf with six wins over the course of the past two seasons, led by three lengths early in the one-mile grass race and was still on top by two lengths at the eighth pole. But despite being put into an all-out drive by jockey Rex Stokes III, she couldn't hold off Stormina's late charge under Jose Espinoza.

The 4-year-old Stormina, now 4 for 12, covered the mile on firm turf in 1:35.32.

Cherokee Prince ($25.60) transferred his dirt speed to turf to wire a field of older males by 1 3/4 lengths in the $75,000 Independence Day Handicap.

A six-time winner on dirt, the 6-year-old Cherokee Prince won for only the second time on grass. Ridden by Mike Allen for trainer Ron Allen, Cherokee Prince got the distance in 1:35.02 and combined with 15-1 shot Buckeye Buddy for a $2 perfecta worth $263.60.

Woodbine shipper Estevan, the 3-2 favorite, finished a half-length behind Buckeye Buddy in third.

In the $75,000 Mountain State for older male dirt sprinters, Bernie Blue ($43.80) scored a 2 1/2-length win over 8-5 second choice Yucatan. The Student, the 6-5 favorite seeking his fifth straight win for trainer Scott Lake, finished third.

Bernie Blue, ridden by Ricardo Feliciano for trainer Miguel Feliciano, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.89 to earn his fourth stakes victory. After being freshened for five months, Bernie Blue prepped for the Mountain State by winning an optional claimer at Thistledown on June 10.