12/08/2005 12:00AM

Turf Paradise: Strategically seeks four in row


It hasn't mattered to Strategically whether the race is on turf or dirt - he has been firing on all cylinders, and his strong current form carries him into the $40,000 Black Mountain Handicap at Turf Paradise as the highweight and likely favorite. A field of six will go in the 1 1/16-mile feature on the main track.

Strategically, assigned 123 pounds, comes to Turf Paradise on a tear for owner Mary Shoemaker and trainer Jerry Atkin. Strategically rattled off three straight strong wins after a disappointing last-place finish among five horses in the six-furlong Caballos del Sol at Turf Paradise on Oct. 8. After running Strategically in that sprint, Atkin moved him back to a route, and it paid immediate dividends. Strategically wired a strong optional claimer on the main track Oct. 22, then moved to turf and led virtually wire to wire in the Walter R. Cluer on Nov. 5. He came back in the Patchy Groundfog on the turf on Nov. 21 and again led wire to wire to win in a romp.

Strategically has won 11 of 28 starts, with seven of the wins coming on the main track, so Saturday's surface is right up his alley. Steve Gomez, who rode Strategically in each of his last three wins, will ride again.

Point Dume, owned by Bob and Shenen Dietrich and trained by Dan McFarlane, is the second highweight. Point Dume was last seen dueling with Strategically in the Walter R. Cluer on the grass. He couldn't keep up late after battling on the pace and eventually faded to fourth, three lengths behind Strategically.

Point Dume went into that race 0 for 4 on the turf, however, so it obviously is not his preferred surface. He returns to dirt on Saturday, and before the Cluer he ran second in the Bienvenidos on opening weekend at Turf Paraside, then won the Mr. Pappion on Oct. 18. Wilson Dieguez rides.

Kilgowan is a dangerous new face. Owned by Ann Marie Farm and trained by Dan Morgan, Kilgowan ships in from northern California. He did not threaten some tough optional claimers up there in the past couple of months after a late-summer vacation, but he has worked strongly for this race. Glen Corbett rides at 120 pounds.