Updated on 09/16/2011 6:41AM

Good riddance to bad luck


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Bill McLean is walking around Golden Gate Fields without his constant companion this weekend.

It seemed as if McLean was lugging a gorilla on his back in recent weeks as his losing streak at the current meeting grew and grew, eventually reaching 0 for 54.

McLean's woes finally ended in Thursday's final race when Kissing Cobra won a $4,000 claiming sprint that wasn't as easy as the final two-length margin indicated.

Kissing Cobra was boxed in to midturn in the six-furlong race. Once jockey Roberto Gonzalez was able to shift wide and get her clear, she blew past the leaders and was never challenged in the stretch.

"That was a big weight off my shoulders," said McLean, who won with 11 percent of his starters in 2001.

McLean said after the race one of his owners, Bill Sargis, gave him a map to the winner's circle and that clerk of scales Paul Nicolo, a former jockey, said "I think we're going to have to paint you," as jockeys do when a fellow rider wins for the first time.

Though he never lost his smile or easy-going nature, McLean was bothered by the slump.

"I had a few sleepless nights," he said. "So many things happened. You don't know how many things can happen to keep you from winning a race. You may have a few horses get left in the gate. Horses lose photos. Things happen that never happened before."

McLean believes in his training methods and tried not to change them, but he admits the slump gave him pause and he did reassess some things.

"You try harder," he said. "You try to figure out what you're doing wrong. You ask more questions of your help about feed and legs.

"It's hard when you're going bad. With the rain and off tracks we had, you get more conservative. You're more worried about hurting horses and maybe back off on training."

Stakes winners in allowance feature

Sunday's feature at Golden Gate Fields has the look of a stakes event. The one-mile allowance race attracted a field of nine, including I'madrifter, who won the $100,000 Lafayette Handicap on New Year's Day, and San Nicolas, winner the $100,000 Forty Niner Handicap on Nov. 23 before an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.

Also in the field are last year's California Derby winner, Takin It Deep, Today a Star, Sirpa, Friendly Nation, Kittys Link, Moonlight Meeting, and Profound Secret.

* Jockey Dave Wilson was off his mounts Friday after returning home to Vancouver, British Columbia, where his wife, Connie, gave birth to the couple's third son. The boy, yet to be named, was born Thursday night, arriving three weeks early. He weighed five pounds, 12 ounces.

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