05/22/2008 12:00AM

Captain Roy's talent put to severe test


ALBANY, Calif. - Saturday's $75,000 Alcatraz Handicap at Golden Gate Fields could come down to a battle between Captain Roy, who rallied from last, 12 lengths from the lead, to victory in a May 3 maiden race at one mile on the turf, and Sky Cape, who scored his first stakes victory in his last start on April 25 in the six-furlong Harry Henson on the turf at Hollywood Park.

That's not to say the Alcatraz, a 1 1/16-mile turf race restricted to 3-year-olds, will be strictly a two-horse race. Nordic Wind was second in the Tempe Handicap at one mile on the turf at Turf Paradise in his last start March 29. Mr Keppel won a pair of minor stakes sprinting in Britain as a 2-year-old before running sixth in the Harry Henson behind Sky Cape. Ballet Way, who has won three straight claimers, and Wild and Ready, who is going in top form right now, round out the field.

Sky Cape has the best credentials, however. He was third in the Grade 2 Best Pal as a 2-year-old. He has twice run second in one-mile turf stakes, missing by a neck in the Pinjara last year and the Grade 3 Baldwin this year.

Captain Roy, a son of Tale of the Cat, doesn't have Sky Cape's resume, but he was far more impressive visually than his numbers show in winning his debut.

"He's bred turf long, turf long," trainer Bob Hess Sr. said. "He's a nice horse. It's hard to say how good he is, and I hope I don't find out."

Captain Roy may not be your garden-variety maiden debut winner. He's owned by Roy Bishop, who won last year's Alcatraz with the Hess-trained Mr Eddie Boy.

Captain Roy worked several times before his debut with Mr Eddie Boy.

"Here's a 3-year-old maiden who hadn't started, and he was working well with a stakes winner," Hess said.

Captain Roy didn't break sharply in his debut and "looked like he was tip-toeing through the tulips" when he was running in last place early, according to Hess. "I didn't think he'd be that far back," said Hess.

Captain Roy was ninth at the eighth pole but came flying late under Alex Bisono, who retains the mount.