12/23/2009 12:00AM

Wise River just hoping for dry course


The pattern goes like this: Wise River gets entered in a turf race. Rain comes.

You'd think a horse named for a body of water might like things wet. And you'd be wrong. A Grade 3-class turf miler at his best, Wise River has finished sixth, fifth, and sixth in his last three starts, well-beaten in all. No coincidence that each race came on a course labeled yielding.

Wise River's connections, owner Don Benge and trainer Clark Hanna, will be doing an anti-rain dance leading into Saturday's $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on turf. There's rain in the forecast Thursday night, but Friday and Saturday are expected to be dry. If the Diliberto comes off turf, Wise River is coming out, and Hanna said he won't run on a turf course that has moisture in it, either.

"Mother Nature just hasn't been in my favor," Hanna said. "The day I enter him, the last six months, it's always been predicting rain."

Last Fair Grounds meeting, Wise River won a fourth-level turf allowance before finishing a close third in the Grade 3 Col. Bradley Handicap on the Fair Grounds turf. His firm-turf form stacks up competitively with any of the other 10 horses entered in the Diliberto.

It's a tough race to read, with the entrants having started at five different venues in their most recent outing. Add to the complex mix layoffs, trainer changes, and a 3-year-old stakes winner, Evolutionist, facing older horses.

The selection is Baltimore Bob, a 4-year-old Marylander who quietly has amassed 6 turf wins in 16 tries. Baltimore Bob has been afflicted by more than his fair share of tough luck during an eight-start 2009 campaign. Most recently, he was beaten an eyelash in a four-horse high-end Churchill Downs allowance race. With no speed there, Baltimore Bob raced head and head on the lead, but he is much better off as a one-run closer and can get that sort of trip Saturday.

Princeville Condo, an Illinois-bred, has won 5 of his 9 starts and never has finished worse than third. He exits a third-level turf allowance win Nov. 24 at Churchill and makes his first start for trainer Greg Geier.

Demarcation won the Grade 3 Ack Ack, a one-turn dirt mile, two starts ago at Churchill, but didn't show much in a pair of Fair Grounds grass tries last season. Get Rich Quick, on the other hand, is a three-time Fair Grounds grass winner. Crested, who is good enough to contend, drew poorly on the far outside.