08/27/2004 12:00AM

McCabe comes up strong


SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sunday's Earlene McCabe Derby at the State Fair, a six-furlong race that drew a field of seven 3-year-olds, has come up quite strong.

"The last couple years it hasn't come up as deep," said trainer Jamey Thomas, whose Bailey's Yodeler has won 6 of 7 career starts, including his past five, as he has moved up from the $6,250 claiming ranks.

Bailey's Yodeler has his share of physical problems, but his gameness cannot be overlooked.

"What works for this horse is that he's so relaxed," Thomas said. "He's push button.

"There's no doubt the horse is competitive. He'll have to up the ante here, but he's capable of doing it."

The field includes Rockin the Ship, who won his first five starts, four coming in mixed-breed competition at Los Alamitos, before running third in a $62,500 claimer at Hollywood Park in his last start, and Irish Ty, who has never finished off the board in six starts but didn't win his maiden until his last start, at Santa Rosa.

"Every race he's run, he's been competitive," said John Anderson, Irish Ty's trainer. "This race was in the back of our minds if he won at Santa Rosa, but it came up tougher than we thought."

Razen Hazen, a stakes winner at age 2, and Kool Suggestion, who both made their first route start in the James Lyttle at Santa Rosa, return to their preferred sprint game, while Smoke Break, who disappointed in her comeback, will tackle males for the first time.

Jet West, third in the seven-furlong Real Good Deal at Del Mar in his Aug. 6 stakes debut, looks tough, but he will have to work to win.

"I was really happy with his race," trainer Art Sherman said of Jet West's Del Mar effort.

"He got involved on the inside, which was not the best place to be. The jockey had to move him a little early, and he ended up fading a bit late, but six furlongs should be right up his alley."

In Sherman's eyes, Jet West is getting better.

"I think this will be a real pace-type of race because there's some good speed in it," he said. "It could set up nicely for him. He's learned to rate. He doesn't have to be one dimensional, and that will make him a better horse."