04/12/2005 11:00PM

Calhoun trying to figure out what's bothering Janeian

Email
Horsephotos
Janeian's first graded win came last July in the Grade 3 Royal Heroine.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Perhaps she is longing for the verdant New Zealand countryside, the land of her youth. Whatever the cause, something has been bugging Janeian, and her psychological discomfort in the morning has compromised her form in the afternoon.

Janeian, now 8, was imported from her native New Zealand late in 2002, and after seven sturdy starts in Southern California, she wound up here at Lone Star in the barn of trainer Bret Calhoun. Things were peachy for a while. Janeian won 4 of her first 5 starts for Calhoun, setting a Hawthorne course record in the last of them, and in her first race of 2004, she won the Irving Distaff on this Lone Star turf course by four lengths. Two starts later, Janeian reached graded stakes status, taking the Grade 3 Royal Heroine at Hollywood Park.

But she has not won since, and on Saturday, when Janeian seeks to repeat in the Irving Distaff, she enters off four decidedly subpar efforts.

In fact, Calhoun saw signs of trouble even while Janeian was winning.

"She's always been temperamental, and she's gradually gotten worse," Calhoun said Wednesday morning at Lone Star. "The hustle and the bustle of the morning has kind of gotten to her, I think."

Unfocused and difficult in her training, Janeian hasn't been able to find her best form in the afternoon, despite various strategies from her handlers.

"We've tried taking her with a pony and without a rider, with a pony and with a rider, tried training her on the Euro-sizer," said Calhoun. "She'll spin, wheel, refuse. We kept doing some work with her, and she is better."

Two positive recent workouts have Calhoun hoping for a rebound here Saturday over a course Janeian loves. But the Irving Distaff is coming together with a deep, strong field, and a full gate of 14 starters is possible. Janeian will need to find herself quickly if she's to win the race again.

In right spot, Waupaca's tough

The featured ninth race here Friday night is for turf milers who haven't won a race in 2005 other than in maiden, claiming, or starter-allowance company. It is the sort of allowance-race condition that attracts stakes-class horses returning from layoffs - horses like Waupaca.

Waupaca, who drew the outside post in a field of eight, hasn't raced since he finished sixth, beaten just more than three lengths, in a $100,000 stakes run over this course during the Breeders' Cup meet last October. That race came on yielding turf, and Waupaca almost certainly prefers dry turf.

But put Waupaca on the right turf course at the right distance - probably 1 1/16 miles or less - and he is a tough customer in races up to the Grade 3 class level. Overall, Waupaca has won 6 of 13 grass starts, but within that record is a 4-for-5 mark in grass miles, including a score at this same allowance condition here last May. Trained by Donnie Von Hemel for owner Wayne Sanders, Waupaca has been preparing at Oaklawn for his 5-year-old debut, and the horse looks ready.

Waupaca likes to race on or near the lead, and he'll have company Friday, at least from Runaway Choice, a horse capable of keeping up with quick sprinters if he must. Runaway Choice's last grass start came at Fair Grounds, where he always seems to have trouble with the turns, but his Lone Star form is better.

There are two Fair Grounds stakes droppers: Sea Dub, who was ninth in the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup but also prefers Lone Star, and Seinne, ninth in the Mervin Muniz in his last start. Majestic Thief, who makes his second start after being claimed for $40,000, also can contend with the right ground-saving, pace-stalking trip.

Magna Graduate possible for derby

Since the Lone Star Derby will be contested one week after the Kentucky Derby, the race is designed for Triple Crown not-quites. Magna Graduate looks like one of those, and there is a good chance he will ship in for the Lone Star Derby next month, trainer Pat Byrne said this week.

Magna Graduate finished third on April 9 in the Illinois Derby, but he was beaten more than 11 lengths by the standout winner, Greeley's Galaxy.

"What we're looking at is the Lone Star Derby, Ohio Derby," Byrne said. "The owners are Ohio people, so the Ohio Derby is the big goal. I'd like to give him one run before then, and the logical one would be the Lone Star Derby."

Byrne said he would soon give Magna Graduate a breeze on the Churchill grass course, and if the horse appeared to excel on grass, he would consider a run in the Crown Royal Turf on Kentucky Oaks Day.