05/18/2008 11:00PM

Wicked Style, Dominican making their turf debuts


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Many horsemen and handicappers believe that turf horses often make successful synthetic-track runners.

Wednesday's eighth race at Churchill Downs, a $47,400 third-level allowance at a mile on turf, may provide answers as to whether synthetic performers make skilled grass horses.

Wicked Style and Dominican - the respective winners of last year's Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity and Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland over Polytrack - will make their grass debuts in the eighth race, an allowance that drew a talented group that includes Winyah, A. P. Xcellent, and Bullara, established turf horses with stakes experience.

For Wicked Style, who was scratched from last fall's Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs because of a shin injury, Wednesday's race marks his first start of the year.

Dominican has the benefit of a race, a runner-up finish in a Keeneland allowance April 18 in which he rallied from fifth to finish 5 3/4 lengths behind victorious Self Made Man, who raced uncontested on the lead.

"Obviously I was pleased," trainer Darrin Miller said of Dominican's first start as a 4-year-old. "He ran a good race and came out if it well."

Miller - who trains Dominican, a gelded son of El Corredor, for Silverton Hill Farm - has never worked his horse over turf, but said Dominican has traveled well galloping over grass.

Dominican, 11th in last year's Kentucky Derby when he last competed at Churchill Downs, has been inconsistent at times during his 11-race career, which Miller attributes in part to the gelding battling allergies. When scoped last year following a sixth-place finish in the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer, he had "a pond of mucus" in his lungs, Miller said.

Miguel Mena will ride.

Wicked Style, one of the top juvenile colts of last year, will be tested against older horses for the first time Wednesday. A winner of this first three starts, all on synthetic tracks, including the Arlington-Washington Futurity and Breeders' Futurity, he most recently finished 10th behind War Pass and Pyro racing in the slop in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Oct. 27.

Regular rider Robby Albarado retains the mount on Wicked Style, a son of Macho Uno owned by Ashbrook Farm and trained by Rusty Arnold.

Bullara looks like the horse best positioned to capitalize if neither Wicked Style nor Dominican takes to the turf. He won a fast second-level turf allowance April 25 at Keeneland and has posted Beyer Speed Figures of 90 or higher in three of his last four starts.