07/27/2007 11:00PM

Becrux may try Poly in Pacific Classic


DEL MAR, Calif. - Becrux's victory in Friday's $90,385 Wickerr Handicap at Del Mar could lead to a start in the richest race of the meeting, the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 19. The Wickerr was run at a mile on turf.

Barry Irwin, the president of Team Valor International, which co-owns Becrux, said the 5-year-old gelding will work on Del Mar's Polytrack synthetic surface in August. An assessment will be made before the Pacific Classic whether to try that 1 1/4-mile race or the $400,000 Del Mar Mile on turf the same day.

"We'll breeze him twice on the Polytrack," Irwin said. "If he likes it, we'll try for the Pacific Classic. If not, we'll go for the mile race."

Trained by Neil Drysdale, Becrux has won 9 of 24 starts and $928,899, but has never run on a synthetic track. He had made four starts on dirt, including a victory in an allowance race in Dubai and a third in the Bien Bien Stakes at Hollywood Park in November 2005.

Co-owner Gary Barber said that Becrux worked well on Polytrack last summer before winning the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on turf in September. "I think we'll explore some big things" for his next start, Barber said as he left the winner's circle.

Becrux won the restricted Wickerr Handicap for the second consecutive year; the race was his first victory in four 2007 starts. Earlier this year, Becrux was fifth in the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile and fourth in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile and the American Handicap.

Becrux was stuck in traffic in the stretch of his two fourth-place finishes. "He's been so unlucky in his last two runs," Barber said.

In the Wickerr, Becrux stalked the pace to the final turn, reached contention in early stretch, and outfinished Zann to win by a neck in 1:33.04. "He showed a lot of courage," Drysdale said.

Lang Field, who set a torrid pace of 22.31 and 45.89 seconds, held third, beaten only three-quarters of a length.

Zann will be considered for the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 26, trainer Mike Machowsky said.

Team Valor buys half of Tasha's Miracle

Team Valor has bought a 50 percent interest in the 2-year-old filly Tasha's Miracle, according to Irwin and trainer John Sadler. Syd Belzberg's Budget Stable has retained 50 percent, according to Sadler, who will continue to train the filly.

Tasha's Miracle won a maiden race at 5 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park on July 1 and is being pointed for the $150,000 Sorrento Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 8, Sadler said.

The deal with Team Valor was completed last week.

"I like the way she won that maiden race," Irwin said. "She's got a great way of going. She not only showed speed, but did it effortlessly. Hopefully, she'll be a Breeders' Cup type horse."

Class droppers and risers create tough puzzle

Monday's sixth race at Del Mar, a $50,000 claimer at six furlongs, is a challenge for handicappers looking to back a winner, and for owners and trainers searching for a potential claim.

Trying to read which of the 12 entrants will run well is something like an equine poker game. Several horses are taking significant drops in class, while a few are moving up.

Jet West, who finished third in the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai in March 2006, makes his first start for a claiming price since the fall of 2005. He was claimed at this meeting in 2005 by Bruce Hochman and Ted H. West for $62,500.

Jet West has made one start this year, finishing sixth in the Sam Whiting Stakes at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton on July 7. The race was his first start since finishing second in the Governor's Cup Stakes at Fairplex Park last September. Last fall, Jet West suffered a severe bout of colic.

"He didn't have anything wrong other than bad colic," West said of the layoff. "It was pretty bad."

Asked if he feared he might lose Jet West via a claim on Monday, West said it could happen - and then he may claim something in turn.

"We might trade him in," West said. "Who knows?

"It's an interesting race," West said. "I've got a lot of guys wanting to claim. There'll probably be five claims in the race."

West said that Del Mar is not an easy place to win a claiming race, even with a horse taking a drop in class.

"If you run a $25,000 claimer, you might lose it, and you still might not win because some guy is dropping a [$40,000 claimer]," West said. "It's so tough to win here."

Trainer Doug O'Neill is starting Yes He's a Pistol, who is winless in 12 starts since the Santana Mile at Santa Anita in March 2006. O'Neill said Yes He's a Pistol has limited confidence. "It's something we've battled with this horse," he said.

Of the horses taking a jump in class, one of the more intriguing is Watch Over Me. The 6-year-old gelding was claimed away from West for $32,000 by Jeff Mullins at Hollywood Park on July 8. Mullins has a sharp record with horses making their first starts for his stable.

If Watch Over Me wins, or is claimed, it would be a profitable day for owner Adam Lewis. "Either way, we make money," Mullins said.