02/02/2007 1:00AM

McCann's Mojave 45th Cal-bred to top $1 million


ARCADIA, Calif. - A decision on the next race for Sunshine Millions Classic winner McCann's Mojave will be made in coming days after owner-breeder Mike Willman travels to northern California to see the horse, Willman said Thursday.

McCann's Mojave pulled a major upset in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27, the most lucrative victory of his career.

Willman said that the horse returned to racetrack training on Thursday after being shipped from Florida to trainer Steve Specht's base at Golden Gate Fields earlier this week.

There is a chance that the 7-year-old McCann's Mojave will be pointed for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 3, but Willman, the director of publicity at Santa Anita Park, said that no decision will be made until he visits Specht and they discuss options.

"We didn't discuss any race specifically, but it would enter the discussion," Willman said of the Big Cap.

By Memo, McCann's Mojave became the 45th California-bred millionaire with his victory in the Sunshine Millions Classic. Bred by Willman, McCann's Mojave has won 10 of 24 starts and $1,174,955.

The Sunshine Millions Classic was McCann's Mojave's third consecutive win and fourth start since being transferred from Paddy Gallagher to Specht. The transfer was made after McCann's Mojave lost six consecutive races in 2005 and 2006.

Willman was so discouraged by the losing streak that he briefly entertained starting McCann's Mojave in a high-priced claimer. "It was exasperating," he said. "When the real running started, he didn't want to play."

The Sunshine Millions Classic was McCann's Mojave's second win at 1 1/8 miles, preceded by the 2005 California Cup Classic. The recent win makes a try at the Big Cap intriguing, Willman said.

"A mile and a quarter is a new world," Willman said.

Sunshine Millions win puts Lava Man over $4 million

A start in the Big Cap for McCann's Mojave would result in a showdown against top handicap horse Lava Man, who won his 10th stakes in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf.

The winner's share of $275,000 from the Sunshine Millions Turf improved Lava Man's career earnings to $4,079,706 from 15 wins in 36 starts. Only two California-breds have earned more - Tiznow ($6,427,830) and Best Pal ($5,668,245). Neither of them started in the lucrative Sunshine Millions, a program launched in 2003.

Lava Man emerged from the Sunshine Millions Turf in good condition but had not returned to the track as of Thursday, trainer Doug O'Neill said. O'Neill said that Lava Man would tack-walk at the barn for a few days before resuming racetrack training, a schedule the gelding has followed in the past.

Ginsburg remembered through filly's exploits

A 3-year-old filly named in honor of Debie Ginsburg, the late horse racing writer for the California Thoroughbred, won her debut on Jan. 27.

The filly was named after Ginsburg a few months after she died following a brief illness last summer.

The filly is owned by trainer Mike Machowsky and the Bongo Racing Stable, which is headed by Bob Feld. Feld had been friends with Ginsburg for many years.

He said that Ginsburg had asked to interview him about the way owners name horses, but the interview never took place. "She said I liked the way I named horses and wanted to do a story," Feld said. "I teased her and said, 'When is that story going to run?' She said, 'I'm working on a few other stories.'

"I thought naming a horse would be a tribute for her."

After the filly's victory, the winner's circle was full of Ginsburg's friends from the California Thoroughbred and her parents, Dr. Brian and Myrna Ginsburg.