09/27/2005 11:00PM

Carano yet to tap his full potential

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Carano enhanced his family's reputation when he scored an electrifying two-length win in an allowance race on turf at Del Mar on Aug. 20. As the younger half-brother to the millionaire Valentine Dancer, Carano has been looked upon as a potential stakes horse since his career began.

In the coming weeks at the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita, Carano could finally jump to that level. Friday, the 4-year-old Carano starts in a $45,000 allowance race over 1 1/16 miles, trying for his third career victory.

A win could lead to a start on the California Cup program for statebreds on Nov. 6.

"He's the little big brother," trainer Craig Lewis said. "He's got some size."

Like Valentine Dancer, Carano is owned by breeders Al and Sandee Kirkwood. And, like his half-sister, Carano seems to be improving with age.

"They mature later," said Lewis, who also trains Valentine Dancer. "She got a lot better mentally on us as time went on."

returns to dirt in Friday's race, which drew six runners, and will go favored. Carano won a maiden race over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on a sloppy track last February in his second career start.

In that performance, and in his recent victory, Carano started well, but has had trouble at the gate in the past. Carano was away slowly in an allowance race for statebreds at Del Mar on Aug. 6 and in his career debut last January in a sprint.

"He's a bad gate horse," Lewis said. "He got away badly at Del Mar and that has been his problem. Sometimes old habits are hard to break."

If he breaks well, Carano will be near the front. He led throughout his recent win on turf and in the maiden race. In Friday's race, Carano could face early pressure from Distorted and Gray Black n White.

finished third in an allowance race at Bay Meadows in September, his first start since February and first for trainer Paddy Gallagher.

, who has one victory in 16 starts, was second in an allowance race at Del Mar, missing by three-quarters of a length after leading by 2 1/2 lengths in the stretch.

If those two show speed, Lewis is hopeful that Carano will be effective as a stalker.

"He will be close and he has really good tactical speed," Lewis said.