10/12/2012 1:59PM

Fresno: Control Seeker looks to exploit pace advantage in Bull Dog

Vassar Photography
Control Seeker won the Joseph T. Grace on the Santa Rosa turf (above), but has also run well on dirt.

Sunday’s $75,000 Bull Dog Handicap at the Big Fresno Fair ended up with only five entrants. Despite the small turnout, the 1 1/8-mile race for older runners brings together four stakes winners, including a pair of graded stakes winners.

Races with small fields often turn out to be tactically run, and Control Seeker could end up controlling a race that does not have much speed.

But Control Seeker is primarily a turf runner and finds himself running on dirt. He has won his last two starts, the Joseph Grace on the turf at Santa Rosa followed by an $62,500 optional claimer on turf at Golden Gate Fields. Prior to that win streak, he was second on the dirt in a Sacramento optional claimer.

“He ran a good race at Sacramento on the dirt, and he’s been a lot better since that race,” said trainer Keith Nations. “It’s not that he doesn’t handle dirt, but he’s better on the turf.”

Nations notes that Control Seeker did run second in a dirt stakes race at Del Mar as a 2-year-old.

Nations, who had two winners from his first four starters at Fresno last weekend, expects a big effort from Control Seeker, who comes into the Bull Dog off a bullet five-furlong workout on Sunday.

“He’s worked fantastic,” Nations said. “He’s come off the track bouncing.”

Control Seeker usually sits in a stalking position, but may wind up on the pace here.

Juniper Pass won a pair of Grade 2 marathons last year, the San Juan Capistrano on the Santa Anita turf and the San Luis Rey, which was taken off the turf and run on the main track there. He has been a stalker-type in those longer races but might be asked for a little more early here. He was close to the pace in running third last out in the R.M. Hinds at Fairplex at Sunday’s distance.

Quindici Man, who won this race in 2010 and was third, beaten less than one length, in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap last year, sat behind Juniper Pass in the Hinds but might be asked for more speed here in his third 2012 start.

Dynamic Host, who won the Grade 3 Tokyo City at Santa Anita earlier this year, has stalked the pace in marathons but is at his best when closing and shouldn’t be a factor in the Bull Dog until the lane.

Hollywood Fredie, who has only an $8,000 maiden claiming win, has not shown much speed in any of his starts but gets in light at 110 pounds.