08/06/2006 11:00PM

A juvenile and apprentice offer signs of big things to come


SANTA ROSA, Calif. - The fair circuit is often a place where rising stars can develop, and the just-concluded Sonoma County Fair offered two. One is a talented juvenile, the other an apprentice jockey.

Trainer Greg Gilchrist and owner Harry Aleo unveiled their latest potential star on Saturday, the 2-year-old Vicarino.

Last year, the Gilchrist-Aleo tandem sent out Frisco Star and Victorina, both Ocala purchases like Vicarino, to win their debuts at Santa Rosa. Frisco Star is unbeaten but has been sidelined by injury, and Victorina is a Grade 3 stakes winner.

Vicarino has been the buzz of the backstretch, and he lived up to his advance billing with a 5 3/4-length victory. He couldn't have been more professional, sitting comfortably behind the fast early fractions of Lookn for the Lord before taking the lead and increasing his margin through the lane without being asked.

"We've had high expectations for him," Aleo said. "He was ready to run at Pleasanton, then he got sick."

Aleo was actually in Pleasanton the day Vicarino was scratched after developing a cough that morning.

Gilchrist said he could tell early in the training process that Vicarino, a $150,000 purchase, seemed special.

"Once we found out he was a little better than most, we began making sure he got used to sitting behind horses and getting a little dirt in his face," Gilchrist said. "That's what we try to do with all of them, because somewhere there's always somebody faster than them."

Jockey Chad Schvaneveldt did little more than sit still aboard Vicarino.

"Chad said the colt didn't go till he pushed him a little," Gilchrist said. "If I could have drawn the race up, I wouldn't have done it any differently."

Gilchrist said he would like to send Victorina, Smokey Stover, and Vicarino either to Saratoga or Del Mar later in the month. There are stakes races in both places for Victorina, who is coming off a July 15 victory in the Grade 3 Azalea at Calder.

In other barn news, Lost in the Fog continues to battle the quarter crack that compromised his chances in the Grade 2 Smile at Calder. Frisco Star has returned to the barn but is still a long way from his comeback start.

Landeros also impressing early

Landeros, who just turned 18, continues to win raves and races with his heady rides.

With three wins Sunday, he boosted his record at Santa Rosa to eight wins from 39 mounts. He also had six seconds and nine thirds. Before the Santa Rosa meet, Landeros rode one winner in three mounts at the end of the Solano meet. He returned there after recovering from an injury suffered in a Pleasanton spill.

The son of trainer Manny Landeros, Chris Landeros shows great awareness on the track. In the first week of the meet, when some jockeys rushed to get on a rail that was proving dead, Landeros scored a victory with Stand by Your Flag by refusing to let him drift down to the rail and staying in the better three path. They led all the way around the track.

"My agent pointed that out to me, and I saw other horses struggling," said Landeros. "Even though mine wanted to go to the rail, I remembered and stayed off."

Landeros was the No. 1 golfer on his high school team as a freshman before later leaving school to be around horses. He earned his GED while working at a farm where horses rehabbed.

"After school, I'd watch TVG and then try to mimic the riders," he said. "It helped a lot to watch them."

Landeros got his start in his hometown of Phoenix and later rode briefly at Hollywood Park. Owner Robert Bone was so impressed with Landeros's riding skills that he suggested Landeros come to northern California, where he would get a lot of mounts.

"We have go-to guys, but I move around a lot of barns," said Landeros.

Landeros's biggest problem is that he's tall. "But I'm light-boned," he said.

He said several jockeys at Hollywood Park talked to him about maintaining his weight. He has hired a dietician and nutritionist to help him and does a daily stretching and exercising routine.

Landeros said he plans to stay in northern California for a while, but he is keeping the option open to return home to Phoenix when Turf Paradise starts.