07/21/2009 11:00PM

McCanna poised to get a stakes win


AUBURN, Wash. - Tim McCanna leads the Emerald Downs trainer standings with 41 wins through 51 racing dates, but has yet to saddle a stakes winner at the meeting. That could change Sunday, when the fast-improving Way Too Much tackles a strong field in the $50,000 Mount Rainier Handicap at nine furlongs.

Way Too Much, who finished fifth in the Emerald Derby last summer, rallied to win a one-mile allowance race in his most recent start July 12, overhauling tiring pacesetters Z Humor and Yacht Spotter in the final sixteenth. A 4-year-old Pleasant Tap colt, Way Too Much has 4 wins in 10 career starts, including three victories around two turns.

"He's dying for more ground," McCanna said. "He's a nice horse who's just figuring it out. There's room for more improvement."

McCanna similarly is high on Fisher Creek, an impressive winner in his 2-year-old debut two weeks ago, and 3-year-olds Siberian Cocktail and Rooster City. Siberian Cocktail returned from a three-month layoff to win a $40,000 optional claimer in his most recent start; he'll be pointed toward a stakes race near the end of the meeting, perhaps the one-mile Trooper Seven Stakes on Sept. 13.

Rooster City, a fast-closing second in the Tacoma Handicap in his last start, could be poised for a winning effort in the $50,000 Seattle Slew Handicap at 1 1/16 miles next Sunday.

"He's training as well as anyone in the barn," McCanna said. "He worked five-eighths Sunday morning, and the rider said he shifted gears about three times."

Longacres Mile still possible for Monterey Jazz

Monterey Jazz remains a candidate for the Grade 3, $300,000 Longacres Mile on Aug. 16, trainer Craig Dollase confirmed this week. The front-running 5-year-old will start Saturday at Del Mar in the Grade 1, $350,000 Eddie Read Stakes at nine furlongs on the grass, with the Mile a possibility for his next start en route to the Breeders' Cup in November.

"We'll see how he does," Dollase said Tuesday evening. "He has been training well, and the race up there is three weeks after this one. We're still considering it."

Monterey Jazz, who won the Grade 2 American Handicap at Hollywood Park in his most recent start, would be a formidable pace presence should he start at Emerald. A stakes winner on dirt, grass, and synthetic surfaces, he won the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile at Lone Star by eight lengths in April 2008 and was the favorite in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct last November after a seven-month layoff. He sprinted to a 12-length lead in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap last March but tired badly to finish 12th going 1 1/4 miles, a distance well beyond his comfort zone.

"He's a fast, mile-type horse. He got a mile and an eighth the other day, but he loves a mile," Dollase said. "He's very versatile. He didn't care for the soft turf at Santa Anita over the winter, so we have options for the Breeders' Cup. We could go in the Dirt Mile if the turf comes up soft."

Lucarelli barn loses several runners

Frank Lucarelli had hoped to get Yacht Spotter to the Longacres Mile, but those plans changed after the Northern California turf star fizzled in the race won by Way Too Much. Used up in his duel with Z Humor, Yacht Spotter finished last in the five-horse field as the 1-2 favorite. He has been turned out for a brief freshening and will return to Golden Gate for his next start this fall.

"I thought that might happen. I was prepared for it," Lucarelli said of the pace scenario. Yacht Spotter and Z Humor zipped through a half-mile in 45.60 seconds and ran six furlongs in 1:09.40. "He doesn't run good when he's hooked, and now I'm convinced he's not as good on dirt as the turf."

With Yacht Spotter gone, and 3-year-old fillies Honey Run and Linovision shipping out, Lucarelli's Emerald roster has thinned. Impressive maiden winners at the current meeting, Honey Run and Linovision were entered in an allowance last week, but the race was scrapped when only one other horse signed on. Lucarelli said he would send Honey Run to Golden Gate and Linovision to Hastings.

Lucarelli lost another promising runner for the time being when Feeling Fancy suffered a shin injury at Hollywood Park before her scheduled start July 12 in the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes. She won her racing debut June 6 at Emerald Downs, recording a 74 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest Beyer by a 2-year-old filly at the meeting.

"She had a little bump on her shin," Lucarelli said of Feeling Fancy, who blew out sharply two days before the Landaluce. "She was sound, but I didn't want to take a chance with her. She trained great, and we were excited. The injury kind of burst everyone's bubble."

Sent to a farm in Northern California to convalesce for six weeks, Feeling Fancy likely will make her next start at Golden Gate for owners Chris and Diane Randall. She'll be joined there by the Randalls' 3-year-old colt Gallant Son, the Gottstein Futurity winner last summer who underwent knee surgery in April. Gallant Son is scheduled to return to training Aug. 15 in advance of a winter campaign in Southern California. He won the Pasadena Stakes at a mile on the Santa Anita turf in March and then was seventh in the Santa Anita Derby.

"I'm looking forward to racing him on the turf again," Lucarelli said. "The surgery went really well; his knees are nice and flat and really clean. He should be ready to run in November or December."