05/10/2012 11:10AM

Golden Gate: The Roan Ranger on improve for Alcatraz

Benoit & Associates
Chips All In (above) comes up from Southern California to face The Roan Ranger in Saturday's Alcatraz Stakes at Golden Gate Fields.

Trainer John Martin is asking a lot of The Roan Ranger in Saturday’s $75,000 Alcatraz Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. If The Roan Ranger is to win his third consecutive race, he will have to defeat the graded stakes winner Stony Fleece and stakes winners Chips All In and Longview Drive in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds.

In his last two starts, The Roan Ranger has rallied from the back of the pack to score a maiden victory and win an allowance race. The Roan Ranger has run twice on turf, finishing third and sixth in maiden races on the 6 1/2-furlong downhill turf course at Santa Anita over the winter. Trained by Mike Puype in Southern California, The Roan Ranger was sent to Golden Gate Fields and trainer Martin after those turf races, and he responded with a second in a maiden special weight route followed by the two victories.

Speaking about The Roan Ranger’s owners, a partnership that includes Blinkers On Racing Stable, Martin said: “They sent him up here to get easier company. He fits up here better.”

While that no doubt is true, The Roan Ranger also has improved since coming north, and Martin hopes he’s now good enough to compete with his Alcatraz rivals.

“Every time he runs, he runs better,” said Martin, who is winning at a 37 percent clip this year. “I don’t know where he’ll top out at. We have to take a shot.”

The Southern California-based Chips All In and Stoney Fleece are likely to be favored in the Alcatraz.

Trained by Jeff Mullins, Chips All In is in search of his third stakes win on turf. In his last three starts, Chips All In has won the Eddie Logan and the Pasadena on the Santa Anita turf, with a seventh on the dirt in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis on the dirt there sandwiched in between those wins.

While Chips All In went wire to wire in his two recent stakes wins, Stoney Fleece used his usual late kick to win the Grade 3 Generous on the turf at Hollywood Park last fall. Since then he has finished behind Chips All In in the Eddie Logan and Pasadena, and comes off a second, beaten a half-length as the favorite, in the $300,000 Snow Chief for California-breds on the Betfair Hollywood Park main track. His $246,860 earnings are tops in the field.

Longview Drive was arguably Northern California’s top 2-year-old last year, with wins in the Charlie Palmer Futurity at Fresno and the Cavonnier Juvenile at Santa Rosa. Longview Drive started this year with a promising third-place finish in the Grade 3 Sham at Santa Anita, but then ran sixth in the Grade 3 Southwest at Oaklawn and ninth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

Longview Drive, a son of Pulpit trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, makes his turf debut in the Alcatraz.

The British import Press Baron comes north after a third in an allowance race on the Santa Anita turf in his U.S. debut.