05/28/2007 11:00PM

Fantastic Spain, Into Reality notch stakes


ALBANY, Calif. - Into Reality and Fantastic Spain achieved their first stakes victories over the holiday weekend at Golden Gate Fields.

Fantastic Spain triumphed in the $191,400 Golden Gate Fields Breeders' Cup at 1 3/8 miles on the turf Monday. Into Reality captured her stakes debut, the six-furlong Dipsea Trail for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday.

Fantastic Spain is a half-brother to millionaire Spain, who began her career in trainer Jeff Bonde's barn in Northern California.

Fantastic Spain had run twice previously in Northern California, finishing third in the Grade 3 Stanford on March 19, 2005, and losing by a head to Flamethrowintexan in the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap last Oct. 28.

He had jockey Chad Schvaneveldt a little concerned early.

"When he left the gate, he kinda loped away," Schvaneveldt said. "He wasn't doing anything early and wasn't on the bit. The first time down the stretch, I said 'I hope he gets involved sometime.' "

Schvaneveldt felt better as Fantastic Spain began to move up as the field went down the backstretch. Now Victory opened a large advantage early, and Railroad seemed to be perfectly placed in second as the field paraded through the first mile.

"I wasn't concerned about the leaders," Schvaneveldt said. "I knew [Now Victory] hadn't been out in a long time. I wanted to maintain contact with the others."

Fantastic Spain was in a good spot as the field went around the third turn in the marathon race. He had to wait behind a tiring Railroad, who moved past Now Victory on the third turn but was getting leg-weary.

Fantastic Spain then bulled through an opening between Now Victory and favored Notable Guest, who had taken the lead in the lane.

"Quick as he had a place to go, I knew we'd win unless that other horse re-broke, and horses don't re-break going 1 3/8 miles," said Schvaneveldt.

The win was trainer Neil Drysdale's third in the race. He scored back-to-back wins in 1995 and 1996 with Special Price and Time Star. Fantastic Spain won by a neck over Notable Guest, the 4-5 favorite, in a final time of 2:17.64 and paid $18.20.

Before the race, Drysdale said that he had been wanting to have Fantastic Spain, a winner at 1 1/4 miles, go long, a sentiment his assistant, John O'Donoghue, echoed after the race. O'Donoghue said the 7-year-old horse had the stamina of a steeplechaser.

Drysdale sent up three runners for the Golden Gate BC, and he also finished third with Macduff and sixth with Corey County.

"Everybody was where we expected them to be," O'Donoghue said of the way the race unfolded. "Macduff ran well. He got knocked about a bit on the last turn."

Jorge Chavez, aboard Notable Guest, was riding for the first time at Golden Gate Fields.

"I felt like he had a lot more, and I was surprised when he hung like that, but give credit to the winner," Chavez said.

Now Victory finished fourth and dug in well late after opening by seven early.

"He really tried hard," jockey Frank Alvarado said. "At the eighth pole, he tried to come back, but coming off the layoff, it was just too much."

First Thoroughbred stakes win for Dilworth

On Saturday, Into Reality gave owner Scot Dilworth, who has owned Quarter Horses for many years, his first Thoroughbred stakes win with the first Thoroughbred he has ever owned.

Dilworth purchased the filly for $75,000 at Ocala last March.

"I just went down to look around and try to learn something," Dilworth said. "I saw her and called my wife and told her I was in love. She knew what that meant - I'd seen a horse I wanted."

Into Reality had graduated in her previous start, the fifth of her career, on April 14 at Santa Anita after a nearly seven-week freshener as trainer Bob Baffert tried to get her to relax.

She relaxed enough to sit behind pacesetting Dixie Crisp, who made her first start since Feb.o19 and wound up third behind previously undefeated stablemate Hot Spell.

"She's a beautiful filly, and she's been getting better ever since she won," Baffert said. "That seems to happen with fillies. We try to get her to relax, but she's always going to be in the race. She loses interest if you take hold of her."

Both Hot Spell and Dixie Crisp ran well in defeat, and Russell Baze, who rode Dixie Crisp, said she would be much tougher with this race under her belt.

Berkeley attracts 16 nominees

Sixteen runners were nominated for Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Berkeley Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

McCann's Mojave, who earlier this year won the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic, has been pointed to the Berkeley since finishing fifth in his last start behind Lawyer Ron in the Oaklawn Handicap on April 7 at Oaklawn.

"He's the one they'll have to beat," said his regular rider, Frank Alvarado, who has been working him for trainer Steve Specht.

Among the nominees is Visa Parade, a Grade 1 winner in his native Argentina, who would be making his U.S. debut with a series of strong works at Hollywood Park under his belt.

At the other end of the spectrum is Juranees, who graduated in a bottom-level $8,000 maiden claimer two races back. It could be a shrewd move by trainer Ramon Gonzalez, given the short stakes fields of late.

Sierra Sunset in maiden sprint feature

Sierra Sunset, runner-up to Cause to Believe's talented younger half-brother Imaginary Sailor in his debut, will seek to graduate in Thursday's feature, a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race for 2-year-olds.

Sierra Sunset flashed early speed but was gobbled up by Imaginary Sailor. He was a length in front of the third-place finisher, You Is What You Is.

A pair of interesting first-timers could be factors as well. Trainintheinflunce is a half to stakes-winning She's Gottagetaway by Lord Carson, who wins nearly 11 percent with debut runners, and Stormy Jay's three siblings are all winners.