Updated on 09/16/2011 7:30AM

Back on dirt, Channing Way is tough

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Channing Way may be overlooked in Sunday's $55,000-added Sunnyvale Handicap at Bay Meadows, but that's pretty much the story of her life.

A 4-year-old filly, Channing Way was sent to trainer Dan Morgan in Arizona as a 2-year-old, in part because she hadn't shown much in her initial training in northern California.

"She was sent to me after she shin bucked," Morgan said. "She hadn't shown much, I guess, and there wasn't much family history. I had her brother, and he was a pretty average horse.

"Usually, you're talking a one-way trip when they send them to Arizona. She worked well. That's why we started her in a maiden special race rather than a claimer."

Channing Way won her debut at Turf Paradise on Dec. 29, 2000. She ran third as the odds-on choice in a stakes race two weeks later before reeling off five straight victories, including the $150,000 Melaire at Hollywood Park and the $60,000 Miss California at Bay Meadows.

Channing Way got sick after the Miss California, missing one race at Hollywood Park and then running third when shipped north to run in the Fairfield Stakes at the Solano County Fair in Vallejo.

After eight races in seven months, Morgan said, "It was time to give her a break."

Channing Way made her 4-year-old debut, finishing last in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race on the turf at Hollywood Park on May 15. It was her first time on turf and first off-the-board finish.

Morgan said she engaged in a speed duel, battling through fractions of 20.97 and 43.95 seconds before fading. She has come back since to record a bullet 45.60 four-furlong work at Hollywood Park.

"She ran well," Morgan said. "She broke sharp, and the leaders killed each other off. She handled the turf well. She just came up short."

Morgan says she is much tighter now, and adds, "I don't think she has to be on the lead, but that's not to say she'll be very far off it."

Channing Way will break from outside in post 10 in the six-furlong race for fillies and mares.

One of her nine rivals to watch will be Fancee Bargain, who finished second in the Soviet Problem Handicap at Golden Gate Fields in her stakes debut in March and won the Woodside Handicap in her last start May 4 at Bay Meadows.

"She got an A+ for that one," assistant trainer Steve Sherman said. "She's always had talent. Now she's taken it to the next level. I think it's just a case of her maturing, and we've got her on a schedule she likes."

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