10/25/2006 11:00PM

Flamethrowintexan tries turf


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Flamethrowintexan, winner of the Longacres Mile, will try to go wire to wire from his outside post in his turf debut Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap. But will turf specialist Now Victory - coming off an impressive five-length victory in the Presidio for California-breds at Golden Gate Fields - let him? Now Victory has wire-to-wire speed himself, although he won the $101,000 Joseph Grace after stalking early.

Six horses are entered in the 1 1/8-mile turf race, and if Flamethrowintexan and Now Victory compromise each other, the race could set up for one of the three stalkers in the race: Place Cowboy, Fantastic Spain, and Don Incauto.

Place Cowboy comes off possibly the best race of his career, winning the War Chant at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting last out, and Fantastic Spain comes off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch at Oak Tree.

The race seems to set up best for those two, although both might prefer going only a mile.

The Argentine-bred Don Incauto, a multiple Grade 1 winner in his native country, sat off the pace in his two U.S. starts, both fifth-place finishes in Southern California stakes.

Grafton, a stablemate of Flamethrowintexan, will be content to sit last early.

Now Victory's trainer, Dean Pederson, has credited jockey Frank Alvarado with making good decisions about where to place Now Victory in his past two stakes victories.

"He's going to have to make the right call again," Pederson said of Alvarado. "I guess the perfect scenario would be if Flamethrowintexan cleared and he sat just behind him."

Flamethrowintexan's trainer, Kay Cooper, is not concerned about the distance. A 5-year-old gelding, Flamethrowintexan has won the 1 1/8-mile Mt. Rainier Breeders' Cup Handicap the past two years at Emerald Downs.

Cooper was happy Flamethrowintexan got a chance to work on the turf here last Saturday.

"It was very important to get out there," Cooper said. "We didn't know if he'd handle it or not."

Flamethrowintexan's regular rider, Ricky Frazier, said Cooper, "assured me he liked it."

"The only thing he doesn't seem to handle well is a cuppy surface," Cooper said.

Grafton was fifth in this race last year, three owners and five trainers ago. Fantastic Spain was third behind Adreamisborn and Night Bokbel in last year's Grade 3 Stanford. Place Cowboy was third, beaten a half-length by El Don and Sharp Writer, in a tight finish in the San Matean this spring.

Now Victory has been third in his two starts here, both in allowance races.