12/18/2008 12:00AM

Backbackbackgone trying a mile


Backbackbackgone is by far the most accomplished of the nine 3-year-olds in Saturday's $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. But with the one-mile Gold Rush being his first start around two turns, Backbackbackgone may not want to go into his home run trot too early.

Trained by Peter Miller, Backbackbackgone has won 3 of 4 starts, including two stakes. He won his debut by 10 lengths at Bay Meadows in May, then won the Willard Proctor Memorial at Hollywood later that month. Off until October, Backbackbackgone returned to win the Jack Goodman at Santa Anita. His only loss came in his last race, a fifth-place finish after dueling for the lead in the Grade 3 Prevue at seven furlongs on Nov. 23 at Hollywood Park.

At issue in the Gold Rush is whether the raw talent of Backbackbackgone can trump the two-turn experience of his two main rivals, Skimasco and Adriatic Moon, both trained by Steve Specht.

Skimasco won his first two starts and then ran second to wire-to-wire winner Frumious in a Nov. 13 optional claimer at a mile. Adriatic Moon graduated at a mile in his last start, a $25,000 maiden claimer on Nov. 21.

Specht said that experience at a mile is a big benefit to his horses.

"I think it's a big edge over somebody who's had only a couple of starts sprinting," Specht said. "It may look like they can go two turns, but some are just sprinters."

Specht said he was impressed with Skimasco's race against Frumious, whom he calls "the best 2-year-old in Northern California."

"Skimasco's training great," Specht said. "He's an overachiever who can run short or long."

Adriatic Moon's maiden-claiming win came in his third start. Specht said Adriatic Moon got cooked on the lead in his first race and had traffic trouble in his second start. He did not have an ideal trip in his victory, either.

"He was stuck on the fence, then picked it up when he finally got clear," Specht said.

Leading rider Russell Baze has the mount on Adriatic Moon.

A recent Hollywood Park maiden winner, Cut the Check, and Merus Miami, who defeated Adriatic Moon in his only start, also look good as they prepare for their first attempts around two turns. The breeding suggests both will like a mile - Cut the Check is by Sky Mesa and $100,000 purchase Merus Miami is by A.P. Indy's son Friends Lake.