08/12/2010 11:31AM

Ex-claimers now stakes favorites at Santa Rosa


There were questions about Luckarack and King Cola early in their careers, but the two one-time claimers are the most accomplished runners coming into Saturday’s $50,000-added Cavonnier Juvenile at the Sonoma County Fair.

The two colts, each of whom won his debut in a $32,000 maiden claiming race, have five rivals in the six-furlong stakes race. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer sends out a strong one-two punch in Ammunition and Kingsford Drive. The stakes-placed River’s Chapel, Over the Budget, and Banditontheloose round out the field.

Luckarack comes off a victory in the Everett Nevin at Pleasanton, but he took a while to get his act together.

He was “lazy” when he first reached the track, according to trainer Steve Specht. He had already been entered in a $32,000 maiden claimer when the light clicked on and he had the best work of his life. Specht was a bit concerned running him for a tag, but gambled he wouldn’t be claimed. Luckarack won, and no one claimed hm.

Luckarack stalked the pace nicely before pulling away in the Nevin.

Luckarack has worked steadily since his stakes win, including a solid six-furlong move and bullet five-furlong drill over the Santa Rosa track.

“He’s working as good and smooth as any horse you could ask,” said Specht.

Specht said it’s important that the colt has familiarized himself with his surroundings and with the dirt tracks at Santa Rosa and Pleasanton.

“If you don’t catch the lead, there’s a lot more kickback than on Tapeta, which bothers some horses,” said Specht. “He handled it fine at Pleasanton. It didn’t seem to affect him.”

King Cola followed up his maiden victory with an impressive second in the Lost in the Fog at Golden Gate after being last entering the stretch. He will be coming from off the pace on Saturday.

Trainer Dennis Patterson is expecting a strong race King Cola, who has raced and worked only on the Golden Gate Fields Tapeta surface.

“He’s trained up to the race exactly like we wanted,” said Patterson. “He’s right on schedule, no setbacks. Still, he has to ship and run over a new track.”

Patterson said KIng Cola will be helped by his disposition. The colt has always been smart and unfazed by anything.

“He never did anything flashy, but it looked like he could run some,” said Patterson. of his early impressions of the colt.