01/27/2007 12:00AM

McCann's Mojave springs Classic upset

Email
Eleanor Gustafson/Horsephotos
Under Frank Alvarado, McCann's Mojave captures the Sunshine Millions Classic, paying $69.80.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - McCann's Mojave capped off a Sunshine Millions Day full of upsets when he held tenaciously through the stretch to post a well-deserved three-quarter-length victory over fellow longshot Summer Book in Saturday's $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.

McCann's Mojave's victory was the fourth for a California-bred on the eight-race Sunshine Millions card conducted at both Gulfstream and its Magna Entertainment Corp. sister track Santa Anita. Florida-breds also won four races but came out on top for the fifth consecutive year in the team scoring, out-pointing the Cal-breds 37-35.

McCann's Mojave is owned by Santa Anita publicity director Mike Willman, who sent the 7-year-old son of Memo to trainer Steve Specht in northern California last fall. Despite winning his previous two starts, McCann's Mojave paid $69.80 while completing a Sunshine Millions pick four at Gulfstream that paid $201,673.60.

Jockey Frank Alvarado put McCann's Mojave in perfect position right from the outset of the 1 1/8-mile Classic, stalking the early pace of Get Funky. McCann's Mojave gained a short advantage approaching the far turn and came again after being headed briefly by 9-5 favorite Sweetnorthernsaint nearing the quarter pole. Then, after edging clear in early stretch, McCann's Mojave withstood a final surge from the 40-1 Summer Book.

Silver Wagon, the lone Grade 1 winner in the field, rallied three wide to within easy striking distance on the final turn but did not corner well entering the stretch. He continued on willingly once straightened away for the drive to finish third.

Sweetnorthernsaint, who broke from the extreme outside in post 12, raced within easy striking distance of the leaders after being fanned four wide around the clubhouse turn. He gained a brief advantage nearing the quarter pole only to give way through the stretch to finish a tiring fifth.

Specht said of McCann's Mojave, "He got the lead a little sooner than I wanted to, and I was a little worried when Sweetnorthernsaint pulled alongside. I wish I could say I did something special with this horse to turn him around, but I didn't. He just came up north, got a change of scenery, and maybe got his confidence back."

Willman, who watched the race from his office in the press box at Santa Anita, said, "When you're a big price, sometimes they leave you alone on the lead. Specht's done an outstanding job with this horse."

Trainer Michael Trombetta had no excuses for Sweetnorthernsaint.

"Ramon positioned him very well, but he just didn't have it today," said Trombetta.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman