07/03/2009 12:00AM

Alamedan favorites not without flaws


On paper, Sunday's $50,000 Alamedan Handicap at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, Calif., seems strictly a two-horse race between multiple stakes winners Bold Chieftain and Sierra Sunset.

But both come with question marks.

Sierra Sunset, who won the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn Park in 2008, will be making only his second start since suffering a left front ankle injury that took him off the Triple Crown trail last year. The 6-year-old Bold Chieftain is still looking for his first win of the year after a campaign that included a trip to the Breeders' Cup last year.

Sierra Sunset finished ninth, beaten nine lengths, in his comeback race, the Grade 3 Ack Ack at Hollywood Park on June 6.

The 4-year-old colt definitely needed the race and wasn't helped when he was bumped and crowded down the backstretch and was forced to take up into the lane. Trainer Jeff Bonde credited jockey Martin Garcia with not overexerting the colt down the stretch.

"Over long layoffs, horses tend to put on weight and muscle, and with a horse like him, you have to meet tough horses no matter where you start." he said.

Sierra Sunset has record three bullet works over the Pleasanton track since the Ack Ack.

Bold Chieftain, who won the Alamedan in 2007, ran third in the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile and lost a photo to Autism Awareness in the final stride of the Grade 3 Berkeley in his last two starts, both at Golden Gate Fields.

Bold Chieftain's trainer, Bill Morey Jr., said age has caught up to the horse a bit.

"He's lost a step, but he's still a good horse," Morey said. "He's 6 and has got a mind of his own."

Bold Chieftain has worked four times since the May 25 Berkeley, winding up with a six-furlong bullet.

"I think we have a well-placed horse in a good spot," Morey said. "But he still has to do it the old-fashioned way. He'll have to earn it."

The field includes the stakes-placed Our Partner, who chased Bold Chieftain in their last two starts; Niner Genius, third in the Silky Sullivan; Meetingwithdestiny and Shore Do, who both competed in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in 2008; and Eager Pharisien.

* Earlier on the card, the $10,000 Jack Robinson Memorial for mixed breeds will be run at 870 yards. Vaderator, a stakes-winning Thoroughbred, will bid for a repeat in the stakes.