10/03/2008 12:00AM

Carona Time continues to move up


ARCADIA, Calif. - Carona Time has risen from winning a $25,000 maiden claimer in the spring to being competitive in optional claiming races at Del Mar in the summer.

Trainer Dan Hendricks is thinking big for Carona Time in one of two $50,000 starter handicaps on the California Cup card Sunday at Santa Anita. The race will be a test for Carona Time, and his first start over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

"I don't see any reason he couldn't do it," Hendricks said of the distance. "He had three solid races at Del Mar. He's run well every time" this year.

Carona Time was third in an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles on turf on Aug. 27. He led to early stretch before fading to finish 1 1/4 lengths behind Earnednevergiven. Carona Time showed a different style in winning a one-mile starter allowance on turf at Del Mar on July 16, stalking the pace and pulling clear in the final furlong.

On Sunday, Carona Time faces a distance specialist in Trato, who won starter handicaps over 1 5/8 miles at the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale on Aug. 17 and over 1 3/8 miles at Fairplex Park on Sept. 19.

The starter handicap is restricted to horses that have started for a claiming price of $40,000 or less this year. The fifth race is a starter handicap over six furlongs for horses that have started for a claiming price of $32,000 or less this year.

In the fifth race, Exceeding, the winner of six races this year and the fourth-place finisher in the Governor's Cup Handicap at Fairplex Park on Sept. 21, faces Valiant Effort, who was second in optional claimers at Hollywood Park and Del Mar during the summer, and Kool Comic, who has won 4 of his last 5 starts.

Kool Comic won the Forrest White Stakes at the San Joaquin County Fair in Stockton on Sept. 14 by seven lengths. He was eighth in the seven-furlong Real Good Deal Stakes for statebreds at Del Mar on Aug. 8, his only loss since May.

"The seven-eighths was too far," said Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Lava Man will lead way to Classic

Lava Man, the winner of seven Grade 1 races and one of the finest California-breds in history, will lead the post parade for Sunday's $250,000 Calfornia Cup Classic.

Lava Man was retired this summer after a career that included three consecutive wins in the Hollywood Gold Cup from 2005-07 and victories in the 2006 Santa Anita Handicap and Pacific Classic. He earned $5,268,706 in his career.

Sunday, Lava Man will be ridden by his regular exercise rider Tony Romero during the post parade.

Lava Man resides at Magali Farm in Santa Ynez, Calif.

McKaughan gets first Santa Anita win

Trainer Amanda McKaughan, 46, won her first race at Santa Anita when Double Dip pulled a 13-1 upset Thursday. Double Dip won an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles.

McKaughan began training two years ago and has five horses at Santa Anita. She was based in Northern California earlier this year and recently moved to Santa Anita.

Headley fined by stewards

Trainer Bruce Headley has been fined $1,000 by track stewards for failing to report the gelding of Kid Poker prior to the ninth race at Fairplex Park on Sept. 14. Kid Poker finished fifth at 5-1 in a maiden special weight race over 6 1/2 furlongs that day. Kid Poker was making his first start since February 2007.

California racing officials have been aggressively penalizing trainers, and in one recent instance, racing office staff, for failing to inform the public when horses have been gelded.