Thursday, December 7, 2006 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 7, 2006 . . . One sure sign of winter at Turfway since the installation of Polytrack is an influx of turf runners, and the My Charmer Stakes this Saturday has drawn its share. More than half the 12 fillies and mares entered for the 1 1/16-mile race have significant recent experience on grass.
Among that group is Half Heaven, a Dale Romans trainee whose only non-turf start was a well-timed neck win on Polytrack at Woodbine last out, the River Memories Stakes in late October. Off at 42-1, she just got up to win in that race at 1 mile, 70 yards, and the My Charmer gives her a bit more distance to work with. Leading rider Miguel Mena rides Half Heaven for the first time Saturday.
Winikins has been keeping steady allowance company on the Kentucky turf this year and has finished in the money five times in eight tries. She likes a route and can come from off the pace or from far back as in her last start, a turf win at 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs. While she has no starts at Turfway, jockey Orlando Mojica's experience over the track is a benefit. Steve Penrod trains.
In for an expensive tag on the turf, Commercialize made a huge late run at Churchill Downs last out, coming from last to finish third, just 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner. If the pace in the My Charmer comes apart, she could take over coming for home. Apprentice Alonso Quinonez is up to ride for trainer Patrick Byrne.
Completing the field are My Chickadee (jockey Victor Lebron), who owns two fourths in late summer Grade III races at Arlington; Ella Belle (Willie Martinez); Golden Locket (Rafael Mojica Jr.); Miss Wellspring (Dean Sarvis); Merry Me in Spring (Inosencio Diego); Keys (Marco Ccamaque); Turbulent Thinking (Bill Troilo); Ayla Bella (Dean Butler); and Moon Berry (BRZ) (Brice Blanc). Caroline's Gold and Shari's Gold Sole hold the also-eligible spots.
The $50,000 My Charmer Stakes is the 11th of 12 races on Saturday's card. Admission and parking at the track are free.