07/12/2007 11:00PM

Cal-breds keep piling up Grade 1 wins


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - In 2006, seven California-breds combined to win a record 10 Grade 1 stakes. The year proved to be a showcase for the state's breeding program. Judging from recent events, it may only have been the prologue.

Throughout the nation on July 7, California-breds won three Grade 1 stakes, a single-day record for the statebred program. At Hollywood Park, Nashoba's Key won the Vanity Handicap and Bilo won the Triple Bend Handicap. At Calder, River's Prayer won the Princess Rooney Handicap. River's Prayer was fully extended to beat another California-bred in Shaggy Mane, who finished second.

Add the Grade 1 wins by Lava Man in the Santa Anita Handicap in March and Hollywood Gold Cup in June, and four statebreds have combined to win five Grade 1 races this year.

The figure may grow by the end of this month. The Del Mar meeting, which runs from Wednesday through Sept. 5, features seven Grade 1 races, and statebreds are top contenders in several of them.

Lava Man, the top older male in California, will attempt to defend his title in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 19, a Grade 1 race and the richest of the meeting.

The California-breds Bordonaro and Greg's Gold are among the probable starters in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap at six furlongs on July 29. Greg's Gold won the race in 2005, while Bordonaro was second last year.

The wildly fast filly One Hot Wish, who set a world record of 48.87 seconds for 4 1/2 furlongs in her debut at Keeneland in April, is expected to start in Friday's $125,000 California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes for statebred fillies as a prep to the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante at seven furlongs on Sept. 3.

Dancing Edie may defend her title in the $400,000 John Mabee Handicap on Aug. 4, a Grade 1 for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

The races below the top tier will also be influenced by California-breds.

The Aug. 5 running of the Grade 2 Clement Hirsch Handicap for fillies and mares may feature the statebreds Nashoba's Key or Somethinaboutlaura, who won the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 6. Nashoba's Key is a possible for the Mabee or the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap on Sept. 1.

With the Breeders' Cup looming in October, some top California-breds may skip Del Mar entirely. The meeting's top sprint for females, the $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap on Aug. 17, may not include River's Prayer or Shaggy Mane.

Trainer and co-owner Paula Capestro said River's Prayer may wait for the Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in late September as a prep to the newly created $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Monmouth Park on Oct. 26.

"The other option is the Rancho Bernardo," Capestro said. "We're giving her a couple of weeks off. She pulled up great. She's not stressed at all."

Shaggy Mane is likely to skip Del Mar in favor of the $400,000 Northwestern Pennsylvania Stakes at the new Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania on Sept. 15, trainer Don Chatlos said.

"I really want more time between this race and the next race," Chatlos said. "That will give us six or seven weeks to the Breeders' Cup. We don't want to knock her out."

Aside from the CTBA Stakes on Friday, there are seven other stakes for statebreds at the Del Mar meeting.

Idiot Proof, the winner of the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 4 in track-record time, is a candidate for the $100,000 Real Good Deal Stakes at seven furlongs on Aug. 10.

His 2-year-old full brother, High Intellect, is a leading candidate in the $125,000 Graduation Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on July 25.