07/10/2002 11:00PM

Channing Way can avenge loss in Vacaville

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VALLEJO, Calif. - As a 3-year-old last year, Channing Way lost only twice in seven starts. One defeat came at the Solano County Fair when she ran third as the favorite in the Fairfield Stakes.

On Saturday, she's in a good spot to make amends as the highweight and probable favorite in the $50,000 Vacaville Handicap at six furlongs for fillies and mares.

Channing Way's loss in the Fairfield last July snapped a five-race winning streak. She was sidelined for 10 months after that race and has run twice this year.

She faded late in an allowance sprint on the turf at Hollywood Park on May 15 in her first try on the grass. She then ran a smasher in the Sunnyvale Handicap at Bay Meadows on June 2, battling on a contested lead before finishing second to Irguns Angel.

Trainer Dan Morgan was pleased with her effort.

"I might have been disappointed if someone else beat us, but Irguns Angel is a very good filly," he said.

The Vacaville wasn't on Channing Way's schedule immediately after the Sunnyvale.

"I thought we might get something at Hollywood Park, but nothing came up," Morgan said. "With a filly that's won as many as she has, it's tough to find places."

As chances to run at Hollywood Park grew slimmer, Morgan, who grew up in Pleasanton, site of the Alameda County Fair, began to focus on the Vacaville.

"She's doing fine," he said.

Channing Way, who carries 119 pounds, will break from post 4 in a field of seven.

Channing Way meets three rivals Saturday that she beat in the Sunnyvale - Fancee Bargain, I'm a Lil Princess, and Win a Feu. Onslaught, High Bolly, and Hadl round out the field.

Fancee Bargain, who won the Woodside Stakes in May at her home track of Bay Meadows, figures to be the toughest rival.

"It will be interesting to see if she can ship and run well," said Steve Sherman, assistant to his father, trainer Art Sherman. "She is mellowing, but that's when she's home at a track."

Sherman believes Fancee Bargain will run better than she did when she ran fifth in the Sunnyvale.

"She didn't have a great trip," he said. "She got shuffled back and was too far behind. She's been training good for this."

Sherman's big concern is Channing Way's speed.

"We'll need help up front to win," he said. "They'll have to stop a bit, but this is a pretty fair track for horses coming off the pace."