09/03/2006 11:00PM

Captain Squire favored in Pirate's Bounty


DEL MAR, Calif. - At the age of 7, Captain Squire can occasionally pose a challenge for trainer Jeff Mullins.

A winner of 9 of 32 starts and $1,278,065, Captain Squire has days when he trains better than others. He was not doing particularly well last month when Mullins and co-owner Bob Bone decided to skip the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.

"He wasn't ready for it," Mullins said. "He tells us when it's time."

The mood has shifted in a positive direction for Wednesday's $85,000 Pirate's Bounty Handicap at Del Mar.

Captain Squire will be favored in the six-furlong Pirate's Bounty Handicap. The race is the fifth on the final day of the Del Mar meeting. The 10-race program is highlighted by the Del Mar Futurity and also includes the $85,000 CERF Handicap for filly and mare sprinters.

The Pirate's Bounty and the CERF handicaps are restricted to non-winners of a stakes with a first-place purse of $50,000 or more since March, other than in statebred races.

Captain Squire is by far the most accomplished member of the nine in the Pirate's Bounty field.

Last October, he won the Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap. This year, he has one victory in four starts - an allowance race here on July 31 - and was fourth in the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai in March.

On July 31, he led throughout and pulled away to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

In the Pirate's Bounty, Captain Squire could face early pressure from Bushwacker or Areyoutalkintome, but neither is as accomplished as him.

Areyoutalkintome, who finished third in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap here on Aug. 20, is winless in eight starts since winning an allowance race at Santa Anita in February. He has placed in three stakes this year.

The Pirate's Bounty marks the second start off a layoff for Jet West, who won the 2005 California Cup Sprint and was third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen in March. He ran fifth in the Sam Whiting Handicap at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton in his comeback on July 8.

Vikki's Honor after 1st stakes

Vikki's Honor, 4, could get her first stakes win in the CERF Handicap. She won a $92,000 allowance race at 6 1/2 furlongs here on July 20 and was scratched from Sunday's Solana Beach Handicap to run here.

Trainer Adam Kitchingman thought Vikki's Honor would be overmatched in the Solana Beach.

Vikki's Honor has drawn post 5 in a field of 12 in the CERF Handicap.

Kitchingman said he was concerned about drawing an inside post position. He said there is a chance that Vikki's Honor could be scratched and pointed for the Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Fairplex Park, which begins on Friday.

Vikki's Honor could face early pressure from Victory Spy, who won an optional claimer over five furlongs on turf here on July 21, her first start since February.

The probable favorite is True and True, who finished second in the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap for fillies and mares over 6 1/2 furlongs here on Aug. 18. Trained by Wesley Ward, True and True has not had a published workout since that race.

"True and True is the one I'm worried about," Kitchingman said.

The CERF handicap also marks the U.S. debut of Lucky for Me, who won 4 of 5 starts in Argentina from December to June, including a Group 3 race over about five furlongs on dirt on June 10.