06/26/2010 12:00AM

Wink At the Girls proves versatile

Email

If you're the general manager of a Major League baseball team, you'd consider a prospect who had played three infield positions to have a valuable asset, versatility, that could make him an appealing draft choice. Versatility also should be a characteristic prized in claiming a horse. Claim a five-furlong turf sprinter, and you have to worry about finding an appropriate grass race, then hope wet weather doesn't move your race to the main track.

Trainer Scott Lake has made plenty of excellent claims during his career, and the versatility factor has helped Wink At the Girls pan out. Claimed for $25,000 in February by Lake and owner Richard Malouf, Wink At the Girls has four wins on dirt tracks and three more on synthetic surfaces. Since being claimed, he has won three times and finished second twice; two of the wins came in routes, the other in a sprint. And with some pace help on the front end in Monday's featured ninth race at Philadelphia Park, Wink At the Girls has a decent chance to notch his fifth victory in 2010.

Wink At the Girls was one of eight horses entered in a six-furlong, third-level allowance race also open to $40,000 claimers. The race has seven betting interests because The Last Wave and Movin' Out are coupled for wagering purposes.

Wink At the Girls has provided one bright spot in an otherwise down season for Lake, who has won 24 races so far in 2010 but required 240 starters to do so. Typically, the trainer's annual win percentage is much higher than that -- but Wink At the Girls has been doing his part. A 5-year-old by Halo's Image, Wink At the Girls seems to run the same sort of stalking/pressing race whether he is going around two turns behind moderate fractions or racing in a fast-paced sprint. And the gelding is consistent: In the last two calendar years, he has finished third or better in 13 of 15 starts.

Senor Fuego could prove a worthy rival, but his two wins this year have been in two-turn sprints at Charles Town, a track with a bullring configuration. Senor Fuego was a decent third going six furlongs around one turn over a muddy Mountaineer Park strip in the May 18 Waterford Park and exits a failed two-turn turf experiment in which he finished seventh of eight in a race at this class level June 8 at Philly Park.