04/18/2012 3:34PM

Emerald: McCanna expanding his scope


AUBURN, Wash. – Tim McCanna spent much of the winter and early spring hauling horses the 700 miles between the San Francisco Bay Area and his ranch in Yakima, Wash. “Doing laps” is what the trainer called his long-haul routine, all part of his effort to build a formidable racing stable at Golden Gate Fields to rival his powerhouse at Emerald Downs.

It’s a new approach for McCanna, 50, who will send out likely favorite A K Racer in Friday’s feature race at Emerald. While he has always dabbled in California, McCanna has focused most of his resources on the traditional April-to-September meeting at Emerald. In the 16-plus years since the track was built as the successor to Longacres, McCanna has captured 10 local training titles.

Now he figures the best way to spread his wings is to have horses on both circuits.

“I’ve got 25 horses at Golden Gate and 44 here,” McCanna said this week. “Plus some horses are at home getting a rest. I kind of rotate them through . . . I’m just trying to run them where they fit.”

“I’ll be [in California] year-round. We’ll do the fairs, a little bit of everything. But I’ll probably still have a stable at Emerald that’s just as big as it has been.”

McCanna finished a distant third in the Emerald standings in 2011. That snapped a streak of four consecutive training titles. But he won 24 races during the year at tracks other than Emerald, including his 20 victories at Golden Gate. He summarized this past winter in California as “really good. The horses ran well. We lost a few and claimed a few. We’re doing all right.”

“I’ve got a nice horse named Ivanho who we hope develops into a stakes horse,” McCanna said when asked to list his best runners. “I’ve got a filly named Munnings Sister who we’re going to try in a stakes at Pleasanton. She could end up at Emerald. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

“Other than that, it’s mostly young horses. I’ve got some 2-year-olds I’m really looking forward to running. There are some sleepers in there.”

McCanna likes the look of A K Racer in Friday’s seventh race, a $5,000 claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs. The front-running 6-year-old hasn’t started since August, but he has been working steadily and looks to be tons the best on paper. He’ll be a short price in a five-horse field.

“He’s got to be very tough to beat,” McCanna said. “There’s no speed in there.”