05/12/2011 12:03PM

Golden Gate Fields: Alcatraz poses many questions for handicappers


ALBANY, Calif. – Plenty of talent will be on display Saturday at Golden Gate Fields when eight 3-year-olds compete in the $75,000 Alcatraz at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Four last-race winners, three runners that finished within one-half length of each other in their last start, a stakes-placed sprinter stretching out, and a runner who has been testing tougher stakes foes down south make for an interesting race.

Life Is a Rock, Northern Causeway, and Duke of Doom finished within one-half length of each other in an April 17 prep race for the Alcatraz. Life Is a Rock edged the pacesetting Northern Causeway by a nose in the turf debut for each runner as favored Duke of Doom ran third, one-half length behind them.

Life Is a Rock will try to be the third straight stakes winner here for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and jockey Kevin Krigger.

Cody Peak, a stablemate of Life Is a Rock, comes off a win at the Alcatraz distance in a race switched to the main track.

Anakin, a son of Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller, comes off a maiden victory on the turf at Turf Paradise.

Unbridled Endeavor will try two turns for the first time after winning a sprint allowance race here in his last start.

Offlee Wild Boys won two straight here after moving to trainer Steve Miyadi, then went south, finishing last in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby and sixth in the $150,000 Snow Chief after leading in the stretch.

The biggest ‘X’ factor in the race is Gig Harbor, who is also the only stakes-placed runner in the field. He won his first two starts here, sprinting wire-to-wire. He then ran third in the six-furlong Harry Henson on the turf at Hollywood Park. Saturday’s race is his first try around two turns.

Although he hasn’t run the distance, I think he’ll get it,” said Gig Harbor’s trainer, Steve Specht. “He’s only made three starts, and 1 1/16 miles will be a test.”

Gig Harbor “ran better than it probably looks” in the Henson said Specht. He said Gig Harbor broke a step slow while on the inside and never was able to get a good running position.

Specht, who has entered his stars Lady Railrider and Antares World in an allowance race on the undercard, said he thinks Gig Harbor will be the one to catch in the Alcatraz.

“He’s a lot faster than anything in there, but you can never tell what will happen when they open the gate,” he said.

“He’s not like some headstrong horse that goes all out all the way. He’s got speed, but he’s ratable. I really like the horse’s stride. It’s very efficient, and it’s a good, long stride.”