08/04/2004 11:00PM

Grace is highlight of season


SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Saturday's $100,000 Joseph T. Grace Handicap at the Sonoma County Fair is the premier race of the northern California fair circuit.

The 1 1/16-mile Grace drew only five entrants, but all are stakes winners who have at least placed in a graded stakes.

Recent history suggests that northern California's leading trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, has the ones to beat in highweight Yougottawanna and Cappu-chino. Hollendorfer has won every route stakes on the fair circuit this year. He saddled the top three finishers in Sunday's Luther Burbank here. He also won the Alameda County Fillies and Mares Handicap and the Alamedan Handicap, finishing first, third, and fourth in that race.

Yougottawanna, who will carry 119 pounds, looms the one to beat in the Grace despite coming off a seventh-place finish as the favorite in the Grade 3 Lt. Governor's Handicap at Hastings in his last start.

"The owner lives in Canada, and we wanted to run him there," Hollendorfer said. "He didn't get out at the start and got shuffled back. After that, the race was over."

Yougottawanna, who can surpass $500,000 in earnings with a victory Saturday, has some impressive credentials. As a 2-year-old, the now 5-year-old gelding defeated Officer in the Cal Cup Juvenile. At 3, he won the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby.

Trainer John Martin claimed Yougottawanna from Hollen-dorfer for $50,000 out of an eight-length victory Feb. 28 and sent him out in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap in his next start, where he finished second to Snorter.

Hollendorfer claimed him back for $80,000 next time out for owner Peter Redekop.

Hollendorfer does not reclaim many horses, but he knew Yougottawanna was sharp and talented, and he won the Grade 3 Seabiscuit in his first start following the claim.

Yougottawanna's primary competition could come from Surprise Halo, who grabbed the lead in the stretch of the Alamedan before being caught by Adreamisborn.

"He's run well," owner-trainer Dennis Ward said. "Cappu-chino tried to steal it at Pleasanton, so he had to go after the speed, but he may be able to sit back a bit here."

Calkins Road and comebacking Peteski's Charm round out the field.