11/28/2005 1:00AM

Magnum shoots for a U.S. win

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ALBANY, Calif. - The 1 3/8-mile distance of Wednesday's feature at Golden Gate Fields, a $25,000 optional claimer on turf, should be no problem for Magnum, a stakes-placed colt in his native Argentina who will be going after his first victory in the United States.

was fourth at the distance in the Group 2 Clasico Eduardo Casey last fall, in a race won by Argentine Derby champion Basko Pinton. Magnum was third in the Group 1 Polla de Potrillos (Argentine 2000 Guineas) and second as the favorite in the Group 2 Clasico Clausura in his final start in Argentina.

Trained now by Darrell Vienna, Magnum has run three times in the U.S., showing improvement each start. He made his turf debut in his last start, finishing third at 1 1/4 miles at Oak Tree in a $40,000 optional claimer.

He has never shown much speed, but finished evenly as the distances have stretched out. This time, he could be sitting in a good stalking position in what appears to be a paceless race.

, who drew the rail, is a likely candidate to set the pace, although he prefers the role of stalker. Dontbenchme also might try for the front.

But Taco Willy's fractions indicate that the lead is his if he wants it, and if he does take the lead - and relax - he might steal the race.

He ran second when favored in his one start at the distance, running an even race and being caught late by Steppin Charlie, who is also entered in here and is the single runner in the field to have won at the distance.

Taco Willy comes off a poor but troubled try against better horses, forced to steady going into the first turn of that race.

is the only other member of the field with a start at the distance, finishing second after sitting close to a very slow pace against similar opposition in his last start, on Oct. 16 at Bay Meadows.

In the Wednesday's co-feature, speedy Capitola will gun for her fourth victory in five starts since returning to northern California.

Capitola has won three straight starts on the main track and finished second at odds-on on the turf since leaving Del Mar in August.

Another potential factor is Princess Lianna, who was recently re-claimed from the Southern California circuit by trainer Steve Specht for owners Andy and Marilyn Smolich.