02/16/2007 12:00AM

Epic Power shortens up off first stakes win

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Charles Pravata/Horsephotos
Epic Power, with jockey Corey Nakatani aboard, wins the California Cup Mile at Oak Tree at Santa Anita last October. He shortens up to 6 1/2 furlongs in Sunday?s Sensational Star Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Three months ago Epic Power won his first stakes in his 42nd career start, winning the California Cup Mile in an 8-1 upset here in October. On Sunday the 6-year-old gelding will turn back to a sprint in the $125,000 Sensational Star Handicap, run over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita.

The field of eight in the Sensational Star, for California-breds, includes Proud Tower Too, the winner of the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai last March.

But Proud Tower Too was also entered for Saturday's Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita. Trainer Sal Gonzalez said Friday that Proud Tower Too "will most likely run on Saturday."

The absence of Proud Tower Too would greatly help Epic Power, who is trained by Jack Carava for La Canada Stable.

"We thought it would be pretty light," Carava said of the potential field. "He's never really been a sprinter. Whether he can do it or not, I don't know."

In his only start since the California Cup, Epic Power finished third in an optional claimer against open company over a mile on turf on Jan.o1. Epic Power led in early stretch before finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind Sherwood Park.

"I had freshened him since the California Cup," Carava said. "He blew to the lead at the head of the lane and may have gotten to the front too quickly. You have to ease him up on the lead or he can pull himself up."

The Sensational Star is Epic Power's first start in a turf sprint since he finished third in a claiming race in October 2005. "I don't think he was at his best that day," Carava said.

Epic Power has drawn the outside post. Typically a stalker, Epic Power is not expected to be too far off the pace, Carava said. "I don't think we'll come flying from way back," Carava said. "Once he gets head and head, he likes to fight."

Epic Power must beat the stakes winners Areyoutalkintome and Red Warrior.

Areyoutalkintome is making his third start at this meeting, having finished second in the El Conejo Handicap and seventh in the Sunshine Millions Sprint in January. A veteran of 42 races, Areyoutalkintome is seeking his first win on turf in his third start on the surface.

Red Warrior was sixth in the Sunshine Millions Sprint, a race he won in 2005.