12/08/2006 12:00AM

Dirt may wake up 'Mojave'


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainers say horses know when they win. When a horse has gone winless for a while, trainers admit they look for confidence-building spots, and that's what Steve Specht is hoping he has found for McCann's Mojave in Sunday's Bay Meadows feature, an $80,000 optional claimer at one mile.

McCann's Mojave, whose last win came in the 2005 Cal Cup Classic, was sent north to Specht in hopes of rebuilding his confidence.

The 6-year-old McCann's Mojave has won 7 of 21 starts and $559,955.

Start No. 1 here was a regression as McCann's Mojave could do no better than seventh in the John Henry Handicap on Nov. 24. That race was run on the turf, which is not the horse's favorite surface.

He has come back with a 59.20-second bullet work at five furlongs.

Although the 2005 Classic win came in wire-to-wire style, Specht said he thinks McCann's Mojave loses interest on the lead after observing his performance in the Oct. 26 Cal Cup Mile.

"He was going easily enough on the lead," Specht said. "There was no reason for him to finish like he did."

McCann's Mojave finished sixth, beaten three lengths, then was sent north. But this could be a tough spot for a confidence builder.

Yougottawanna, who pulled one of the Cal Cup's biggest upsets when he beat Officer in the 2001 Juvenile and then won the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby, makes only his fourth start after a 13-month layoff and second after another brief freshening.

Me My Mine, a recent claim for $62,500 after winning the Claiming Crown Jewel and the Shepherd at Fairplex this year, is also entered.

Three-year-olds Raise the Bluff, who won the Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby, and stakes-placed Dr. Einstein are also entered, as is Real Temptation, who won at this level and distance three back.

Dr. Einstein, who seems much faster early than his older rival, assures that McCann's Mojave will stalk here.

Earlier on the card, stakes-winning Stellar Magic drops to the $25,000 level hoping for a confidence builder. But, as with McCann's Mojave, he's in a tough spot and is not likely to be favored.

Mixed results for hunch plays

Thursday was owner Harry Aleo's 87th birthday, and he celebrated twice in the winner's circle, winning the first race with his speedy 2-year-old filly On Duty and the second half of the double with his homebred Brite 'n Happy.

On the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, USS Oklahoma, named for the ship that capsized in the harbor during the Japanese attack, was ninth at 54-1 in a one-mile maiden turf race.