10/10/2006 11:00PM

A chance to see star in making


Friday's $40,000 Harvest Festival Futurity will bring a rising star to the Big Fresno Fair.

The six-furlong stakes race for 2-year-olds drew six entrants, headed by Vicarino, an impressive debut winner at Santa Rosa, who lost by a nose to Pacific Heat in a very fast allowance race at Golden Gate Fields two weeks ago.

Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze, counting down to the day he surpasses Laffit Pincay Jr. on the all-time win list, accompanies Vicarino, who will be making his stakes debut.

Vicarino's trainer, Greg Gilchrist, said he's bringing Vicarino back relatively quickly because he's worried there won't be another appropriate opportunity soon. Vicarino was coming off a seven-week layoff in his loss to Pacific Heat.

"It's just been so tough getting races with these young horses," Gilchrist said.

"We were going to work this weekend, so we might as well run."

Vicarino's next opportunity to run in northern California may not come until Bay Meadows offers the Winner's Foundation on Dec. 2.

Vicarino drew the outside post in the field of six and seems too fast for any of his rivals. He will likely be the odds-on favorite, but strange things have happened in this race. Two years ago, Wind Water, already a multiple stakes winner, ran third at 3-10 behind Air Julie, who had only won a bottom-level $12,500 maiden claimer.

Vicarino stalked the pace in his first two starts. The fractions of those races suggest he could easily be in front here whenever he wants to be.

Stormy Passion, the lone filly and only multiple winner entered in the race, is the rival most likely to challenge Vicarino early. She was a distant second in AV Flynn's debut and has won twice since, including a wire-to-wire victory in a starter allowance race against males in her last start. She has worked nicely since, with a pair of half-mile bullet works.

Scoonerwharfbardog rallied from well off the pace to score a maiden victory at Del Mar and was most recently fourth in the Gateway to Glory at 1 1/16 miles at Fairplex.