Updated on 09/17/2011 9:52AM

Locals to test graded winners

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ALBANY, Calif. - A pair of hard-knocking local horses will try to upset a trio of graded winners in Saturday's $100,000 Tanforan Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.

Trainers Dennis Ward and Chuck Peery know they are asking a lot of Surprise Halo and Cappucino Kid, respectively, to go against the likes of Grade 1 winner Sligo Bay, Grade 2 winner Seinne, and Grade 3 winner Devine Wind in the 1 1/16-mile turf race.

But Ward believes his runner, Surprise Halo, will be a factor in the lane despite his apparent lack of credentials.

"He's got heart," Ward said. "All he wants to do is run. They'll have to do some running to beat him."

Sligo Bay is the one to beat, coming into the race with two straight victories, including the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup in his last start on Nov. 23.

If Sligo Bay is suspect, it is because this is a prep race for the Santa Anita Handicap and because he prefers a longer distance than Saturday's race.

Surprise Halo is 7 for 7 on the turf at Saturday's distance - and has won both his races on this course - while Cappucino Kid is 3 for 4 with a third on the grass at the distance.

Surprise Halo, owned by Ward and Lawrence Karp, makes his third stakes start since losing to Ninebanks by a half-length in last September's California Turf Championship at Bay Meadows. He was sixth, but beaten only 2 1/2 lengths, in the Cal Cup Mile on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

Cappucino Kid, a half-brother to Medaglia d'Oro, ran in a $6,250 claimer less than one year ago. He is also 2 for 2 over the local course and has won three straight starts as he prepares for his stakes debut.

Peery said a 6 1/2-length victory in a $6,250 claimer last April 3 was a big confidence booster for Cappucino Kid, and that the horse also has matured.

"His last three starts have been so good we're willing to take a shot," Peery said.

Neither Surprise Halo nor Cappucino Kid has met the likes of Sligo Bay, but both are sharp and have the home-course advantage.

Devine Wind hasn't run since a fourth-place finish Dec. 7 in the Great States Challenge Turf at Sam Houston. In his lone start over this course, he was last in the 2002 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Seinne had five straight Beyer Speed Figures of 100 or higher before his last start, a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Handicap at Santa Anita on Dec. 29.

Not for Me rounds out the field.

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