12/31/2003 12:00AM

For Harris, a race with meaning


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Carla Gaines knows that John Harris, one of her principal owners, likes to win races, and she's won a fair share for him over the years: 76 victories from 341 starts.

Gaines would like to get Harris a victory at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday when she enters in the $100,000 Work the Crowd Handicap at one mile.

"He gets excited about all of his wins, but this race has great sentimental value for him," Gaines said.

Harris, a member of the California Horse Racing Board, bred and campaigned Work the Crowd with his friend, the late state senator Ken Maddy.

"That gave me a push to run here," said Harris, who won the Work the Crowd in 2002 with Super Tuesday, sired by Political Ambition, who was also the sire of Work the Crowd.

Harris bred and raced the superior sprinter Soviet Problem, and Gaines won the 2001 Soviet Problem Handicap here for Harris with Image of Glory, a half-sister of Super High.

Gaines likes Super High's chances on Saturday. The 5-year-old mare has won 6 of 18 starts, earned $498,908, and is a multiple stakes winner.

The champion Cal-bred 3-year-old filly of 2002, Super High was winless in 2003 after breaking a cannon bone in December 2002. She lost by a head after leading in the lane in the $105,300 Cat's Cradle Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 14 in her last start. Valentine Dancer set a stakes record in winning the race.

"Her last race was her most spectacular," Gaines said. "Her first few back, she didn't run as well as expected because she had been training well. We tried a few different things trying to find an answer, nothing major."

Gaines still can't explain the poor efforts, but she said Super High seems to be back in form.

"She's racing back pretty quick, but the money's tempting," Gaines said.

Harris said that Super High will be pointed to the Sunshine Millions, probably the Sprint, to be run at Santa Anita Jan. 24.

Friday feature

Clear Creek Canyon, who had won two straight before fading badly in a $50,000 optional claimer, appears the one five rivals must catch in a $32,000 claimer at six furlongs. He has a 59.20-second five-furlong bullet drill since the loss.