10/24/2002 11:00PM

Canani's cry: Wait till next year


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Julio Canani would have rather shipped this weekend to Chicago, to start a horse in the Breeders' Cup. Unfortunately for Canani, his stock was not good enough.

Next fall, it might be a different story. California-based Canani, who trained BC Mile winners Silic in 1999 and Val Royal in 2001, can stay home in 2003 when the Breeders' Cup comes to Santa Anita. By then, Canani may have genuine contenders for all three Breeders' Cup grass races.

Nazirali, a graded stakes winner, would be a candidate for the Turf. Special Ring, who is recovering from a blind fracture, will return next summer, and point toward the BC Mile. Finally, Canani's rapidly improving filly Adalgisa may be BC Filly-Mare Turf material. She jumps into graded stakes company Nov. 16 when she ships to Churchill Downs for the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs.

With the 2003 Breeders' Cup still a year away, is it too early to dream?

"That's why you get up in the morning," Canani said. "Everything is a dream in this business."

Sunday at Santa Anita, the Canani-trained Nazirali will be favored to win the Grade 3 Carleton F. Burke Handicap. A moderate field of five entered the 1 1/2-mile The group consists of restricted stakes winner Dance Dreamer, the 117-pound highweight; Nazirali, 115; Rob's Spirit, 113; the 3-year-old Mountain Rage, 111; Alyzig, 111; and Special Matter, 110.

Like most of Canani's grass horses, Nazirali was imported from France last fall. Owned by Michael House, he won his U.S. debut in a one-other-than, finished second in two-other-than, then scored a 7-1 upset Feb. 16 in the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap at 1 1/2 miles. A splint injury sidelined him until Oct. 6, when he finished fourth in theGrade 1 Clement Hirsch at 1 1/4 miles. The Burke marks his second start back, at his preferred distance.

"He's doing super, he's a mile-and-a-half horse, and he's fresh," Canani said. Nazirali carries 115 pounds, including jockey David Flores, and figures to win the Burke if he improves off his credible comeback.

Dance Dreamer rapidly emerged this summer as a potential graded stakes horse, winning three of his first four starts in the U.S. He tailed off in two graded stakes, and has been freshened since Sept. 21. Rob's Spirit makes his second start for Laura de Seroux, after winning 4 of 12 in the East for Bill Mott.