Friday, February 20, 2004 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . February 20, 2004 . . . With the weather apparently over its surliness, Turfway Park offers two stakes races Saturday, the Dust Commander and the Valdale, each for $50,000. Both cover a mile, the former for 4-year-olds and up and the latter for 3-year-old fillies.
Ask the Lord enters the Dust Commander for trainer Bernard Flint. Now 7 years old, the gelding enjoyed three wins in a row, including an $80,000 allowance optional claiming race at Churchill Downs and the Prairie Bayou Stakes at Turfway, before finishing fifth in a lesser optional test at Oaklawn last month. The sloppy track there might be blamed had he not already won in similar conditions at the same distance at Churchill. Rafael Bejarano, leading the country by wins with 74, was aboard Ask the Lord in the Prairie Bayou in December and gets the call again.
Ask the Lord may share stalking duties with Doc D, fresh off a win in the Forego here a month ago. The 5-year-old was third in the Prairie Bayou and is looking to go two-for-two in 2004.
Out front are likely to be Twin Talk, fourth in the Forego, and Wild Lies, third in the Holiday Cheer at Turfway. Billy Troilo rides Twin Talk, and Eddie Zuniga has been named to both Wild Lies, who most recently was scratched from the Forego, and Bonaparte, making his first start this year and his first stakes appearance.
Rounding out the field are King of Speed (Jeff Johnston), Wendlar (Perry Ouzts), New York-bred Michael’s Temper (Frankie Cotrone, Jr.), and Brian’s Echo (Rodney Prescott).
The ladies step up next in the Valdale. Tarrah Trick is two-for-two lifetime by a lot: 8 1/4 lengths hauling 122 pounds in her maiden romp on January 11 and 10 lengths two weeks later, both at Turfway. While she tries two turns for the first time in the Valdale, perhaps most telling is trainer Joe Cain’s choice to ride. Rafael Bejarano sets Plumlake Lady aside in favor of Tarrah Trick.
Plumlake Lady has two wins in three starts, all in 2004 and none beyond a sprint. She jumped right to stakes company in the Cincinnati Trophy two weeks after breaking her maiden and finished third despite rearing and dumping Bejarano in the paddock.
Leading Lioness won the Gowell here in December, but her next start, the Cincinnati Trophy, brought five extra pounds and sixth place behind Stoneway, Beau Watch—both entered here—and Plumlake Lady. Stoneway and Leading Lioness both carry 121 pounds, ceding five and seven pounds to the rest of the nine-filly field. That may benefit Jason Lumpkins on Beau Watch, who likes to stay near the leaders and has won at the distance, albeit in mid-allowance company. Stoneway is the hot speed, wiring or nearly wiring all three of her wins in five starts, but this is her first try at more than a sprint. Rodney Prescott rides Stoneway for Flint.
Finishing the field are Slewpy’s Storm (Tony D’Amico), who won a mile allowance at Turfway three weeks ago; Diamonds and Lace (Orlando Mojica) with one win in 11 starts at 2; Regal Case, lightweight at 114 pounds off her maiden claiming win (Jeff Johnston); and Military Mission, fifth in the Cincinnati Trophy (Jose Castanon).
First post Saturday is 1:10 p.m. EST