07/09/2008 11:00PM

Cross Fire has speed to spare


VALLEJO, Calif. - What Cross Fire lacks in size, he makes up for in speed, and that suits trainer Lloyd Mason just fine. Cross Fire could be the one to catch in Saturday's $50,000 Solano County Juvenile at the Solano County Fair.

Cross Fire, an Edward and Theresa DeNike homebred by Sought After, always showed potential, said Mason. He won his June 15 Golden Gate Fields debut by three lengths without really being asked by jockey David Lopez.

"That was nice," Mason said of the easy victory, which came in a maiden special weight sprint.

"He's very calm and cool, never nervous. He trained well up to the race and has never had shin problems or anything."

Cross Fire, who had some fast works leading up to his debut, has a pair of solid five-furlong maintenance drills since his debut victory for Mason, who has a high $5.33 return on investment with second-time starters.

"You have to be careful with young horses, especially today when there aren't many to back them up," Mason said.

The 5 1/2-furlong race for 2-year-olds includes only one other maiden special weight winner, Turbo Call, who won his debut at two furlongs and was a factor in the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile on July 5 before fading in the stretch.

The field includes three first-time starters, a fact that Mason jokes is a concern, given that Northern California's first two 2-year-old stakes races have been won by maidens.

Frumious, a $17,000 Barretts purchase as a yearling in January 2007, and Project Fifty Five, a $20,000 purchase at last September's Northern California sale at Pleasanton, both will be making their debuts and both are trained by Jeff Bonde. Both recorded 59-second five-furlong gate drills on June 30 at Pleasanton and sub-46-second half-mile works at Pleasanton on July 7.

"The track at Pleasanton has been quick, but their works have been very good," Bonde said.

Bonde has had good success with 2-year-olds, winning at a 22-percent clip, and said cautiously, "I think they're in where they have a chance."

He said Frumious is a "big, attractive-to-look-at" Grindstone colt. After his purchase, Frumious spent a year at owner George Schmitt's Lake Tahoe ranch.

"I ran some other 2-year-olds early, and he just took a little longer, but the last month the light's really gone on," Bonde said.