10/04/2009 11:00PM

Black Bear Island has bigger goals


ARCADIA, Calif. - Black Bear Island is already a Group 2 winner in England and Grade 1 placed in this country this year. His appearance in Wednesday's seventh race at Santa Anita, a one-mile optional claimer on turf, will move him closer to trainer Julio Canani's goals this fall.

Canani has the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby on Nov. 7 and $300,000 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 29 in mind for Black Bear Island.

"If he wins those, we can go to Dubai," Canani said.

Recently acquired by a partnership that includes R.D. Hubbard and Ed Allred, Black Bear Island has not started since finishing second by a head to Take the Points in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 8. Black Bear Island was always near the front and led in the stretch before being caught.

Previously trained by Aidan O'Brien in Ireland and owned by Coolmore connections, Black Bear Island had mixed results in Europe earlier this year. He won the Group 2 Dante Stakes over 1 5/16 miles on turf in a 12-1 upset in York, England, back in May, but was only 10th at 7-1 in the English Derby. He was third in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Black Bear Island has run in races at 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 miles this year, making Wednesday's one-mile race his shortest since a four-length win against maidens over seven furlongs in Ireland in August 2008.

Canani skipped stakes opportunities at the end of Del Mar last month to have Black Bear Island ready for the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

"I started slow," Canani said. "I wanted to know where I was. He's put on 100 pounds."

Black Bear Island is part of a field of nine, with Sartorial on the also-eligible list.

Black Bear Island is the most prominent of three runners with European experience. Don Pedro Mendoza has not started since 2007, when he won two turf races in a week in Ireland. Ridge Dance, who ran in two group stakes in England in 2007, makes his first start since a third in an allowance race at Del Mar in August 2008.

Pleasure to Ride and Tangled Tango command respect off their recent form.

Pleasure to Ride won an optional claimer over a mile on turf at Del Mar on Sept. 6. Tangled Tango was third in the Pirate's Bounty Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 9.