09/05/2007 11:00PM

Wonderful Luck shines on Polytrack


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - If Saturday's Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie were contested on dirt, not Polytrack, Wonderful Luck would be one of several contenders, though not an obvious winner. But racing over a synthetic surface, she stands out like David Beckham in an American soccer game.

An average stakes horse on dirt, she has shown exciting ability on synthetic surfaces, displaying a powerful turn of foot that has led to two victories in as many races on such ground.

A waxed blend of sand, carpet fibers, and rubber, Polytrack is a surface that favors horses that can quicken - in much the way that turf courses do. And few 2-year-olds can accelerate like Wonderful Luck.

A quick glance at Wonderful Luck's past performances indicate her effectiveness on synthetic surfaces. She won a maiden race at Keeneland over Polytrack in April and later in the spring took the Cinderella Stakes over Cushion Track at Hollywood Park. In contrast, she has a fourth-, a sixth-, and a second-place finish in three dirt starts in stakes.

As good as her wins look on paper, the past performance lines from those races really do not do her justice. To get a better handle on just how much potential she has on the surface, horseplayers should check out the replays of her races on those synthetic surfaces.

Both times she turned in eye-catching performances, accelerating in a flash to catch the leaders and then drawing off when confidently hand-ridden late.

Replays of her dirt races do not convey the same promise. In those races, she was urged by her riders to remain in contact and remained even-paced.

I doubt that is how she will run in the Arlington-Washington Lassie. She looms a standout with the return to Polytrack, a surface on which she was so sharp at Keeneland in the spring. She is an overlay at 3-1 on the morning line.

Turfway Park Fall Championship

The Grade 3 Turfway Park Fall Championship, also on Polytrack, is a good betting race that offers the opportunity for profit.

Facing several established Polytrack performers, Istan may slip past the betting public somewhat and offer value. A recent 4 1/2-length winner of the Governor's Handicap at Ellis Park, he fits the profile of a horse that should take to racing over Polytrack.

A versatile horse, he has won multiple races on both turf and dirt - indicating he is not particular about the surfaces over which he races. He is also a son of Gone West, whose offspring have fared well on synthetic surfaces.

If Istan can run back to his top dirt Beyer Speed Figures, a pair of 107s, he appears capable of beating Spotsgone, Gouldings Green, and Teuflesberg in the Turfway Fall Championship.

Prairie Meadows Freshman Stakes

Handicappers not accustomed to playing Prairie Meadows should give the Saturday card there a glance. Three stakes are on tap, with the $50,000 Prairie Meadows Freshman Stakes for juvenile colts and geldings being the most compelling of the trio.

A six-furlong dirt contest, it offers a blend of talented locals and out-of-town invaders - thereby presenting challenges for horseplayers.

My choice is West Coast Coach, an Arlington Park shipper who won his only start there in late July. Dismissed at 34-1 that afternoon, he showed blazing speed to open up a commanding four-length lead after a quarter-mile and kept going quickly to the wire, winning by 2 1/2 lengths.

His effort was the kind of performance one expects to see in a dirt race for 2-year-olds, not so much from a race on Polytrack. For that reason, I wouldn't be surprised to see him move forward off that one race, even facing a quick, more seasoned group.

A son of Crafty Prospector out of a Tale of the Cat mare, he has a pedigree that suggests sprinting on dirt will be his calling.

His task isn't easy. Deputy Dance, a stakes-winning Posse colt, is in the lineup, as is Maya's Storm, an Iowa-bred Stormy Atlantic colt that ran six furlongs in 1:09.26 in winning the Iowa Cradle Stakes on Aug. 25.