03/16/2006 1:00AM

Your Bluffing opts to go long

Email
Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Your Bluffing, on a five-race win streak, fit well in two races Saturday.

Your Bluffing may be a durable and versatile horse, winning his last five starts at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles and sporting a 14-for-33 lifetime record. Running twice on the same card, however, would be too much to ask.

Saturday at Laurel Park, trainer Mike Trombetta had to choose between the $85,000 Harrison Johnson Memorial Handicap, where Your Bluffing would concede 10 to 13 pounds while running 1 1/8 miles, and the $60,000 Northern Wolf, where his horse would face a tough group of sprinters going seven furlongs.

Friday morning, Trombetta decided to scratch out of the Northern Wolf in favor of the Johnson.

Money, however, had nothing to do with his decision. Although the Johnson offers a larger purse, $25,000 is earmarked for Maryland-breds. Since Your Bluffing was bred in Kentucky, he would be running for the winner's share of $60,000 in either race.

Although the 6-year-old must carry 125 pounds, compared with 112 to 115 for each of his seven rivals, the 1 1/8-mile Johnson seems a less demanding assignment.

"That's part of my job - to find the most favorable spots to run in," Trombetta said.

Only one of Your Bluffing's foes, the 7-year-old , has won a stakes within the past two seasons. Jim Thirds Bolero, a distant third in last year's Johnson, got up by a nose in the 1 1/16-mile Native Dancer at Pimlico in January 2005. He will be making the second start of his current form cycle after finishing last of four in a high-priced optional claimer on March 1.

Reckless Ways has gotten sharp this winter by winning three in a row since he was claimed for $18,000. The 5-year-old Reckless Ways comes off a career-best 97 Beyer Speed Figure three weeks ago.

, an easy winner of Charles Town's most prestigious race, the $450,000, 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Breeders Classic, last October, delivered his best performance since then in a front-running win going a mile on March 1. He will be ridden by Laurel's leading rider, apprentice Rosie Napravnik, who is seeking the first stakes win of her career.

The wide-open field of nine older sprinters for the Northern Wolf includes multiple stakes winner Abbondanza; the 4-year-old City Weekend, stepping up to face stakes company for the first time after winning two of his last three starts; and the millionaire old-timer Peeping Tom.

Abbondanza has won two sprint stakes at Laurel since late October, including the six-furlong Fire Plug on Jan. 16. He bounced badly in a subsequent start against optional claimers, finishing fifth as the 3-2 favorite, but has had five weeks to regroup.

Trainer Tim Tullock said he probably shouldn't have run Abbondanza in the optional claiming race.

"He really wasn't ready for that race," said Tullock. "It ended up being a public workout, and he's had three great works since then, so he should be ready to go."

Although Abbondanza seldom races beyond six furlongs, Tullock said he is confident his horse can get the extra distance.

"I know he's effective going seven furlongs," Tullock said. "He's graded-stakes-placed at that distance."

City Weekend, a front-runner, has posted Beyers of 98 and 95 in his last two starts going seven furlongs when the track has been fast.

At one time, Peeping Tom, a winner of $1.4 million and 14 races, would have crushed this group. But at age 9, there's a question of what's left in his tank after Peeping Tom went 0 for 4 in 2005. His last win came in May 2004 at Philadelphia Park.