08/20/2003 11:00PM

Call It a worthwhile gamble


SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Trainer Kent Molinaro hasn't earned a lofty win percentage by placing horses where they don't belong.

When he enters a horse in a race, handicappers are wise to give the horse a close look.

Molinaro has entered Call It in Saturday's $60,000 Governor's Handicap at 1 1/8 miles at the California State Fair, and, while even Molinaro admits he might be running for second behind highweight Cappuchino in the field of six, Call It cannot be completely dismissed by bettors.

"It's an odd situation," Molinaro said. "You never know how these stakes on fairs will come up.

"At the main meet, I wouldn't consider it. He's still eligible for the second condition, but who knows how big the field will be or how shipping into hot weather will effect some horses. If he doesn't fare well, we can drop him."

Call It has won three straight races, moving successfully from a $16,000 claimer to a $40,000 claimer to an allowance race this summer.

"He's gotten better," Molinaro said. "He's kind of matured a little bit. He was on the flighty side when I first got him. He seemed a little too anxious in his races."

Molinaro claimed Call It for $12,500 last Nov. 28 from leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who will saddle Cappuchino and the enigmatic Metatron. Molinaro takes little credit for Call It's improvement.

"I just kind of backed off and didn't run him right away," Molinaro said. "I didn't know he was that flighty until I got him. You hope they settle down."

Call It likes to race on the front end, and could have his work cut out here against Cappuchino, who holds a decided class edge. Although Call It has run faster fractions recently and has shown gameness, he hasn't had to do it against the likes of Cappuchino, winner of Santa Rosa's $100,000 Joseph Grace in wire-to-wire fashion.

It was Call It's gameness that originally attracted Molinaro.

"A couple starts before I claimed him, he went out fast, was challenged, and then drew off," Molinaro said. "He didn't run well on the turf in his next start. That's one reason I didn't want to run him on the turf at the Bay Meadows Fair."

If Call It and Cappuchino do battle up front, it could open things for Ulterior Motives to come from off the pace. Metatron has speed and could also be a factor.