07/22/2008 12:00AM

Koriner targets sprint wins on both coasts


DEL MAR, Calif. - There was a time in Brian Koriner's training career when a big weekend was running stakes horses on consecutive days at Sunland Park and Los Alamitos. The game has changed for Koriner.

This weekend, the Southern California-based trainer has a starter at Saratoga for the first time when Black Seventeen runs in Saturday's $250,000 Alfred Vanderbilt Handicap. If Black Seventeen wins, Koriner and jockey Aaron Gryder will have little time to celebrate. The following day, they will be back at Del Mar to run Barbecue Eddie in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap.

"If you could run one-two-three both days, you would feel like you accomplished something," Koriner said. "To win one would be great. It would be amazing.

"I've never been to Saratoga. When I see the racetrack and the crowd, I'll get butterflies. My whole life I wanted to win a race at Del Mar, on the Southern California major circuit. You get used to it and then you want to get to the next level."

Koriner, a 41-year-old native of the Los Angeles County suburb of Diamond Bar, has been a Thoroughbred trainer for a decade after spending 10 years in Quarter Horse racing, primarily at Los Alamitos. He began training in 1988 at the age of 20.

Koriner says he does best with sprinters, such as Black Seventeen and Barbecue Eddie. He hopes that one - or both - is good enough to start in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Oct. 25.

"I think speed is my strength," he said. "It's difficult to buy horses with the pedigree to run farther. They cost more money."

Black Seventeen, a winner of 3 of 7 starts and $271,360 for Koriner, Julie Berta, Wind River Stables, and Janet Lyons, is best known for winning the Grade 2 Carry Back Stakes at Calder in July 2007. An injury that Koriner described as a "tender ankle" kept him out of training from last summer until earlier this year. Black Seventeen has made one start since the Carry Back, finishing second to Bonfante in the Oakland Handicap on the Golden Gate Fields Polytrack on June 14.

Koriner chose to run Black Seventeen in the Grade 2 Vanderbilt to keep him and Barbecue Eddie apart for the time being.

Koriner said Black Seventeen still might be a race away from his best.

"He's a big horse that carries a lot of weight," he said. "I want him to show up. I'm not afraid of anything in the world if he shows up. He'll run them off their feet early and he'll finish."

Black Seventeen has run fast enough to win the Vanderbilt: He earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure for winning the Carry Back and a 109 for winning an optional claimer the race before on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track.

Barbecue Eddie, a winner of 3 of 10 starts and $310,950, is seeking his first stakes win against a tough field in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby, which will include Street Boss, the top sprinter in California this year, and defending champion In Summation.

Barbecue Eddie has made 3 of his 4 starts this year in Southern California. After finishing second to In Summation in the Grade 3 El Conejo and Grade 2 Palos Verdes handicaps at Santa Anita earlier this year, Barbecue Eddie finished fourth in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 29.

Owned by Brewer Racing Stable and John D. and John R. Haagsma, Barbecue Eddie didn't race for three months after the Dubai race. He won his comeback in a seven-furlong allowance race at Hollywood Park on June 28, earning a 103 Beyer, which is four points lower than his best.

The win left Gryder convinced that Barbecue Eddie can win the Bing Crosby.

"Barbecue Eddie is definitely on his game," Gryder said. "I think Barbecue Eddie is a better horse than last winter."

Gryder, who has become closely allied with Koriner in the last year, says he thinks his transcontinental weekend could turn out to be lucrative.

"I think I have legitimate chances to win two races," Gryder said.

Koriner has become established in Southern California in the last few years, having relocated earlier this decade from the Northern California circuit. Koriner trained there for nearly a decade. He now trains 50 horses.

Racing is not the first sport he tried. When he left high school, he played briefly for a scout team in the Minnesota Twins organization.

"The racetrack got in the way," he said.

For Koriner, having runners at Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita is a wish come true. Having stakes horses reflects the success he has achieved.

"I wanted to come back here and be near where I grew up," he said. "Hopefully, it'll just get better."